GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — Some of the top names in golf were being upstaged by a player ranked No. 528 in the world at the Scottish Open, with unheralded Englishman Daniel Brooks taking a surprise three-shot lead midway through the second round on Friday.
Brooks rolled in a 30-foot putt for birdie on the last hole for a 5-under 65, which followed up a first-round 64 and put him in command of the links tune-up for next week’s British Open at St. Andrews.
Defending champion Justin Rose and Shane Lowry shot 66 and were in a three-way tie for second place on 8 under. Phil Mickelson birdied Nos. 14-16 on his way to a 68 that lifted him to 3-under overall and above the projected cut line — despite what he called a “horrific” round on the Gullane greens.
But they were all trailing Brooks, who was ranked as low as No. 570 two weeks ago after 13 straight missed cuts on the European Tour.
“Something clicked,” Brooks said, when he tied for 20th at last week’s French Open and he has carried that form to the east coast of Scotland.
“It’s hard work when you are going out there every week and playing bad. It gets to you,” the reserved Brooks said. “You know you can do better, and I’m showing it this week.”
Brooks’ only title came after a playoff at the Madeira Islands Open in May last year, but that victory came in a tournament that was reduced to 36 holes because of fog and was overshadowed by the death of the caddie of Alastair Forsyth earlier that day.
“With Mack (Ian MacGregor) passing away, I didn’t have time to celebrate. It wasn’t a nice feeling,” Brooks said. “I got a win but it put a downer on it.
“I’ve played some terrible golf since then but it’s started to come back.”
An eagle on the par-5 2nd hole, following a 5-iron to 8 feet from 225 yards, was the highlight of Brooks round.
Rose is in contention to become the first player to retain the Scottish Open title after two 66s, although he was shaken up during his second round after striking an elderly spectator on the head with an errant drive.
The 2013 U.S. Open champion sent his tee shot left on the par-5 16th and when he approached his ball, there was a man sitting on the ground with blood coming from a cut on his head. Rose said a young spectator fainted at the sight of the blood, but soon “came around.”
“First you hope it’s not a kid, then you hope it’s not a woman. It’s an elderly gentleman, so it’s not nice, but he took it like a trooper,” Rose said. “He was talking to me and that’s reassuring. It’s definitely going to leave a mark.”
Rose made par on that hole, as he did on every hole on the back nine after picking up five birdies from Nos. 2-8 after morning rain relented and the early starters were treated to still conditions that left the Gullane links open to low scores.
“Definitely some good elements out there, but I would say I’m running at 50 percent,” Rose said. “There’s still a couple of loose shots I’m getting away with on this golf course.”
Lowry, a links specialist, is continuing his form from the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay where he was tied for ninth and is level with Rose and Sweden’s Johan Carlsson (67).
Mickelson looked like he was heading for an early exit and two extra days of practice at St. Andrews after dropping to level par overall with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12.
The 2013 champion of both the Scottish and British Opens turned it round, although he said: “For me to make the cut the way I putted the first two days in surprising.”
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