Robert Rock leads at halfway point

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Rock has not dropped a shot over the first 36 holes for the first time in his career .

Rock has not dropped a shot over the first 36 holes for the first time in his career .


Robert Rock has claimed the halfway lead in Scottish Open at Gullane.

The Englishman added a second round of 63 to his opening 64 for a total of 13 under par.

Lying two shots behind are compatriot Tyrrell Hatton and Sweden’s Jens Dantorp, with Eddie Pepperall and 2015 champion Rickie Fowler another stroke back,

Lee Westwood is part of a four-strong group on nine under, with former Masters champion Trevor Immelman on eight under par alongside first-round leader Luke List.

Rock, 41, has not dropped a shot over the first 36 holes for the first time in his career and is in pole position to secure one of the three qualifying places on offer for next week’s Open Championship.

He said: “I’ve started well in a few tournaments recently but it’s all about putting four rounds together and that’s the challenge,” 

Rock’s last European Tour title came in Abu Dhabi in 2012, where he played the final round alongside Tiger Woods and outscored the world number one by two, with Rory McIlroy finishing runner-up and Woods in a tie for third.

He added: “Getting into the Open is everything, but you have to focus on this event first and play the course here before that.

“I hate missing the Open.

“I’ll be there whatever happens as a coach but it’s hard going just as a coach and not playing.”

Hatton won the Dunhill Links in 2016 and 2017 and revealed another victory here would be a welcome boost for his mother Karen, who lives near Inverness and is recovering at home after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour in her lung.

“It was lucky they caught it early,” Hatton said. 

“She will be watching on TV and I’ll try my best to be up there come Sunday.”

Despite adding a bogey-free 64 to his opening 65, Hatton was far from pleased with his ball-striking, adding: “On some shots I literally didn’t even hit grooves. I was so far out of the toe I’m surprised it went forward to be honest.

“Me and the driving range aren’t friends so I’ll stay away from that, have the afternoon off and hopefully wake up with a good swing tomorrow.”

Pepperell finished fourth when the Scottish Open was last staged at Gullane in 2015 and needs another top-10 this week to have the chance of securing a second Open appearance.

“The two similarities between 2015 and now is that I haven’t played a practise round and stayed in Edinburgh both times,” Pepperell said.

“That seems to be the secret for me, just go out and have nice meals in Edinburgh and drink a bit of wine and come up here and play for four hours.

Earlier in the day, Scotland’s Connor Syme set a new course record of 62 which was broken shortly before 8pm by Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, who recorded an eagle and seven birdies in his first 15 holes to threaten the first 59 in European Tour history before eventually signing for a 61.

In contrast, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson missed the cut after finishing one under par, admitting: “I have some work to do on my game, I didn’t play great. Now I’ll have a couple of extra days to go over to Carnoustie and try to get it done.”

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