G-Mac made hay while the sun shone

European Tour

Electrical storms came too late to stop Graeme McDowell storming into the lead at Castle Stewart on Friday.

Electrical storms and heavy rain twice disrupted the second round of the Scottish Open on Friday – but not before Graeme McDowell had made hay while the sun shone and stormed into the early clubhouse lead with a sparkling 8-under 64.

Later, before the round was suspended for the second and final time of the day with more than half the field still out on the course, McDowell was joined on top of the leaderboard by local favourites Scott Jamieson and Peter Whiteford with 11-under 133 halfway totals.

The Scottish duo both posted 66s after opening with 67s while McDowell, seeking his second victory at the Scottish Open and his first on the new Castle Stuart Golf Link’s East Course, added his bogey-free 64 to an opening 69.

The leading trio are a stroke ahead of Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara who also posted a 66.

The lucky leaders all enjoyed perfect morning conditions, but the afternoon’s bad weather played havoc with those trying to play catchy up before the second suspension and heavy lightening ended play for the day shortly before 1800 GMT.

McDowell admitted that he had enjoyed the best of the day’s weather as he snapped out of a brief career stumble in recent weeks and fired his lowest European Tour round since his stunning 63 in the Hong Kong Open last November.

“I realized conditions were going to be easy when I woke up and I knew the course was there for the taking,” McDowell told the media after carding an eagle and six birdies.

“Like any links course in the world, if you don’t get the elements it will be taken apart.”

McDowell was delighted to be showing such good form the week before the British Open and happy he had at last cleared his head of his maiden major success at Pebble Beach in 2010, having just recently handed the US Open crown over to his compatriot Rory McIlroy as Northern Ireland continued its dominance of the event.

“I feel quite fresh in mind now, like a subconscious weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” McDowell said.

“I really shouldn’t be complaining about the burden of being a US Open champion but I really wanted to push on. There’s another Northern Irishman (McIlroy) now to take all the attention off me – next week as well.”

It was not a happy afternoon, however, for the likes of the World Nos 1 and 2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood as the two Englishmen continued their weekend battle for the Rankings crown, or, for that matter, Colin Montgomerie, who is making a last-ditch bid to claim a British Open spot with a top finish at Castle Stuart.

Westwood and Donald were locked together on seven-under totals when the hooter ended play for the day, leaving 78 afternoon starters to complete their rounds on Saturday morning..

Westwood had played 11 holes while Donald had just reached the turn. Montgomerie, playing with Donald, was a shot worse on six-under.

Double major winner Angel Cabrera and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie matched McDowell’s 64 in the morning to share fifth place on nine-under with Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (66).

World number six Phil Mickelson trails the leaders by seven strokes after a 67.

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