Tommy Fleetwood shot a Carnoustie course-record 63 to claim a share of the halfway lead with defending champion Tyrrell Hatton at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Fleetwood, leader in the Race to Dubai standings, shot a blemish-free nine-under-par round at the venue for next year’s Open to join Hatton on 11 under. Hatton, who was also playing his second round in the three-course event at Carnoustie, did not drop a shot either in a seven-under-par 65.
The pair led by one shot from Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, who shot 67 at St Andrews after recovering from a double bogey on his first hole.
Ireland’s first-round co-leader Paul Dunne — bidding to capture back-to-back European Tour titles — was in a tie for fourth at nine-under with Germany’s Marcel Siem after carding 68 at Carnoustie.
Dunne stayed in touch with a four-under 68 that left him two off joint leaders Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood with a four-under-par 68 yesterday.
He’s now nine-under-par for the tournament, two off the pace, but well poised for another weekend charge.
Dunne was upbeat.
“I struggled through the first five. but got it around at even par and, from the sixth, I started to hit it well. I started to play the golf I’ve been playing over the last couple of weeks and it was pretty stress-free. I was hitting a lot of greens, getting the ball in play off the tee, giving myself a lot of chances. I bogeyed 17, but it’s playing tough, it’s a tough finish here, so to play the last three in level par, I would have taken that on the 16th tee.
“My game is feeling good and hopefully I can make a few birdies at Kingsbarns tomorrow. This is the first time I’ve broken par here at Carnoustie, so it’s pretty good.”
It was a good day too for Gavin Moynihan and Pádraig Harrington, with the former carding a two-under 70 and Harrington shooting up the leaderboard with a 68.
They’re both four-under overall, as is Graeme McDowell, who went round in 71.
Shane Lowry undid the good work of his opening 68, as he slid out of contention with a three-over, four-bogey 75.
Fleetwood’s impressive round included a run of five successive birdies on the back nine. He almost extended that sequence to six when a birdie putt from off the green on the 16th narrowly missed the hole. He might even have had an eagle on 15th, too, when his second shot at the par four bounced onto the green and hit the flag.
He finished his round in style by picking up his ninth birdie at the 18th.
World number six Rory McIlroy, hoping to end a frustrating year with a win, was overshadowed by Fleetwood, who was one of his playing partners. McIlroy ended the day 11 shots off the lead on level par after a 71, which included a double bogey seven on the sixth hole. With the cut coming after 54 holes, the Northern Irishman is not yet out of the tournament, but he must make up a lot of ground as he plays Kingsbarns today.
Fleetwood, who became a father for the first time last week, was asked after his round how it felt to break the course record.
The 26-year-old said: “It sounds good doesn’t it? You don’t really think too much about it when you are playing but then I holed that one on the last and they said it was a course record. So, all in all, it was a good day’s work!”
Tommy Fleetwood: “It [Carnoustie course record] sounds good, doesn’t it? You don’t really think too much about it whilst you’re playing and to hole that one on the last for a course record, all in all, it was a good day’s work, wasn’t it?
“Any time you have a course record, especially on a golf course like this, it’s brilliant to have. I’m very proud at the moment. When I turned up this week, I hadn’t been practising whilst I was at home, so I had a week where I didn’t do anything and that week feels like a year when you’re in the middle of it.
“I would love to win a tournament. I’d love to win this tournament. So the goal every week is to try and win whatever you’re playing in. With such big events coming up, I don’t think anything will be over with the Race to Dubai until it’s finally done, but if I can keep making that cushion a little bit bigger, then it will feel a lot nicer.”
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