Scotland's own Chris Doak walked into a two-day lead at the 2013 Scottish Open on Friday after a strong round that allowed him to drop to 12-under par and slip past a plethora of contenders heading into the weekend.
With the 2013 British Open next weekend in Scotland as well, many of golf's best have come out to the country a week early to face a tune-up test that just so happens to be one of the biggest European Tour events.
Doak, a 35-year-old Scottish native, has shot a 66 for each of his first two rounds and looks hungry to pick up just the second professional win of his career.
American golfer Phil Mickelson had all eyes on him after a first-round 66, and he posted a two-under 70 to finish his first two rounds at eight-under. He's tied for 13th, but he joins 11 other players in that regard, so he's one shot away from being in 24th.
American Peter Uihlein, Denmark's JB Hansen as well as British golfers Matthew Southgate and Ross Fisher all sit just one shot back of the leader at 11-under.
There are nine players who are currently at least 10-under par. If you're above par at Castle Stuart Golf Links right now, you're tied for 126th in the field and way off the cut line. That says it all about how consistently the deep field of golfers have been playing.
Conditions haven't hurt, as two perfect days of weather have rolled in and allowed for an ideal course and green play.
Other notable players who can still contend in the field are Henrik Stenson (10-under), Nicolas Colsaerts (six-under) and John Parry (eight-under). Stenson's second-round 64 joined Southgate as the lowest round of the day. Ernie Els failed to make the cut at two-under through two days.
Let's take a look at the leaderboard and breakdown of the biggest events.
2013 Scottish Open Round 2 Leaderboard
Full leaderboard can be found at EuropeanTour.com
Lefty Plays Well Again, Still Falls Behind
Like he's done so many times in his career, Mickelson raced out to a stellar first round on Thursday at Castle Stuart that got people talking.
He tends to follow those up with solid rounds, and that's what he was able to do on Friday. His two-under round of 70 won't blow anyone away and certainly won't be good enough on Saturday or Sunday if he wants to win, but it kept him right in the middle of things.
At just four shots back of the leading Doak, there's no reason Lefty should be worried about where he currently sits. His short game is on fire, and he seems poised to make up any poor fairway shots by dominating the green and those unfortunate places around it.
Don't think for a second that Mickelson's mind isn't truly on next weekend's Open Championship, but the experienced golfer knows that he can boost his game that much more with a win this weekend at the Scottish Open.
Chris Doak: Hometown Hero
Two straight rounds of 66 and a Scot is halfway to winning the Scottish Open.
The 35-year-old Doak has been on the pro circuit since 1997, competing in the European Tour, the formerly Challenge Tour and Tartan Tour. However, he's only racked up one professional victory in that 16-year career.
In fact, one of Doak's biggest career accomplishments was qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open, in which he failed to make the cut.
Now, Doak has taken the Scottish Open field by storm as he's snuck into the top spot after 36 holes of golf.
It's important to remember that eight other golfers sit within two shots of him and that he's just a couple of pars away from another golfer overtaking him. That's how easy this course has been for these golfers through Thursday and Friday.
Stenson, Southgate Each Post 64
Shooting eight under in one tournament is ridiculous, but shooting eight under in one round is jaw-dropping and slightly close to perfect. That's what Henrik Stenson and Matthew Southgate were able to do Friday.
Stenson—the Swedish native who has been a perennial contender in the European Tour and in majors in the past half-decade—catapulted into a tie for fifth place after his 64 put him at 10-under after two rounds.
Meanwhile, the up-and-coming Southgate represented England well by putting himself within one shot of Doak's lead.
If either of these golfers have enough left in the tank after an incredible performance on Friday, they'll be big favorites to overtake Doak and win the tournament.
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