England’s Daniel Brooks is a surprise halfway-stage leader of the Scottish Open at Gullan, getting to 11 under par on the back of a second round of 65.
Ranked 528th in the world, the 28-year-old played a second straight superb round of golf to leave a top-class field trailing in his wake on Friday.
Brooks leads by three strokes over a six-strong group, including world No.7 and defending champion Justin Rose, Irish links specialist Shane Lowry, back-to-form Graeme McDowell, all of whom had 66s, and leading American challenger Ryan Palmer with a 65.
A further stroke back on seven under came Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain (66), Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (67) and English trio Tommy Fleetwood (66), Richard McEvoy (67) and Richard Finch (68).
The tournament on East Lothian’s Golf Coast is a prime buildup event for next week’s British Open at nearby St Andrews, but as it stands, Brooks has not even qualified for that.
To do so, he would have to finish in the top 10 come Sunday evening.
Brooks has won just once on the European Tour – at the 2014 Madeira Islands Open – and that 36-hole victory was totally overshadowed by the tragic death of Alastair Forsyth’s caddie Ian McGregor.
His recent form has been poor, but a strong showing at last week’s French Open did wonders for his confidence and he came in late on Thursday with a 64 to sit alone in second.
Friday’s round was draped around an eagle at the second, where he hit a five-iron to eight feet, and birdies at the final two holes.
“It seems like a long time ago now (Madeira Islands win). I played some terrible golf between now and then, but I’m starting to come back,” he said.
Rose’s second straight 66 put him into prime position for a successful defence of the Scottish Open crown he won last year at Aberdeen.
The 34-year-old Englishman went out in 31 before parring his way down the relatively tougher back nine on the par-70 course.
No player has ever won back-to-back Scottish Open titles and, were Rose to achieve that feat on Sunday, it would underline his position among the favourites at St Andrews in the absence of injured world No.1 Rory McIlroy.