Ryder Cup winner Tyrrell Hatton is just a shot off the lead as he looks to become the first player since Tiger Woods to win the same European Tour event for three years in succession.
Padraig Harrington is best of the Irish at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
He shot a 72 around Carnoustie today to leave him three under par.
Paul McGinley is two under following a round of 73.
Hatton carded a second round of 66 at Carnoustie, traditionally the toughest of the three courses used for the £3.8million pro-am event.
Four birdies and an eagle from six feet on the par-five 14th gave Hatton a halfway total of eight under par, with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard and Italy's Andrea Pavan setting the pace on nine under thanks to rounds of 65 and 63 respectively at Kingsbarns.
Hatton was part of Europe's triumphant side at Le Golf National in Paris last week where Woods, who won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from 2005 to 2007, failed to secure a point from four matches.
"I enjoy this event, I've got good memories here and I'm just trying to put up as good a defence as possible," said Hatton, who is now 55 under par for his last 10 rounds in the event.
The 26-year-old Englishman admitted on Thursday that the Ryder Cup celebrations were "messy" and ended with him falling asleep next to the toilet in his hotel room at 4am, but added on Sky Sports: "It's a lot different this week.
"Last week you have so much adrenaline and such an atmosphere to play in and this week is the other end of the scale. The crowds aren't too big here. It's a much more relaxed style of golf, we're playing with the amateurs and we have a good time which is what this week is all about.
"And we got Carnoustie on a nice day today, which helps a lot. This is the toughest of the three courses, especially when the wind blows so we are all fortunate to get pretty calm conditions."
Austria's Matthias Schwab and Australia's Marcus Fraser are alongside Hatton on eight under, with Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood two shots further back after a 67 at Carnoustie.
Fleetwood's record-setting partner in Paris, Francesco Molinari, is not in the field but the Italian's brother Edoardo is just four shots off the pace following a 66 at St Andrews.
American Tony Finau, who beat Fleetwood 6&4 in Sunday's singles at Le Golf National, is also five under, while team-mate Brooks Koepka is seven shots off the lead on two under.