Scottish Open: Sweden's Alex Noren leads after second round of 66

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland at Castle Stuart
Sweden's Alex Noren
Sweden's Alex Noren carded a second round of 66
Scottish Open second round leaderboard
-8 A Noren (Swe); -7 D Lee (NZ), E Pepperell (Eng); -6 M Manassero (Ita), B Grace (Rsa), R Bland (Eng)
-5 P Harrington (Irl), G McDowell (NIrl); -4 A Canizares (Spa), T Hatton (Eng), R Ramsay (Sco), A Sullivan (Eng)

Sweden's Alex Noren leads the Scottish Open on eight under par after three birdies on his final four holes earned a round of 66.

Danny Lee set the clubhouse target earlier on at seven under par, a total matched by England's Eddie Pepperell.

Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are three shots off the lead after rounds of 69.

Scotland's Richie Ramsay posted the best score of the home talent, his 68 leaving him on four under par.

That puts him two ahead of compatriots Russell Knox and Marc Warren, who both remain in contention.

It was a different challenge to the opening round with winds easing significantly to present more birdie opportunities for the field.

Lee took advantage with three birdies in his first four holes in a strong early showing.

"A lot of the into the wind holes were a lot easier," said Lee. "It was probably a five club difference from yesterday."

He looked destined to hold a lead before Noren's fabulous finish finally overhauled him with Pepperell also finishing strongly with two birdies from his last two holes.

Branden Grace, the 2013 Scottish Open runner-up, leads a group of four players on six under par after his 67, with the Republic of Ireland's Harrington and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell a further shot back.

Home interest this week has focussed on Russell Knox, who finished two under for the tournament alongside compatriot Marc Warren, who responded well with a round of 69.

However, it was Ramsay, who thrust himself into contention for the title and a place at next week's Open Championship.

Asked what a win in Scotland would mean, Ramsay told the BBC: "Career-defining really.

"Anybody that plays the British events, those are like majors to the home guys. You could retire a happy man on Monday morning if you won on Sunday."

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson did enough to make the cut

Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed all recovered from disappointing opening rounds to reach one over par and make the cut.

American Mickelson is hopeful he can capitalise on predicted calm early weather tomorrow to post a good early score.

"If I go out and shoot a score of six, seven under par, which is out there when the conditions are benign, you never know what might happen to the later groups," he said.

"That might be enough to get back in it on Sunday."