Out of the three names at the top of the Scottish Open leader board following Day 2 of the competition, Scotland’s Marc Warren is the most recognizable. He’s already qualified for next week’s British Open, but he’s neither currently in the field for the Race to Dubai (ranked 81st) nor ranked in the Top 100 golfers in the world (No. 161).
Compared to co-leaders Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina and Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden, however, he’s practically a household name. The 44-year-old Gonzalez hasn’t won a tournament since 2009 and is ranked 350th in the world.
The 28-year-old Broberg has never won anything outside the Challenger Tour, and is ranked 304th in the world.
And yet, there the three of them are, tied at 6-under at the Royal Aberdeen after 36 holes, all of them a stroke ahead of 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose, five strokes ahead of defending tournament champion Phil Mickelson, and a full six strokes ahead of Day One leader Rory McIlroy, who imploded to the tune of a 7-over 78 to fall back to a tied for 34th at even par.
Gonzalez and Broberg, who each started the day a stroke behind McIlroy for first, both shot even par 71s on Friday. Gonzalez could have had sole possession of the lead, but he double bogeyed No. 18. Broberg likewise struggled on the back nine. He was 2-under through 13, then doubled 14 and bogeyed 18 around a birdie on 15.
Warren fired a 2-under 69 to climb up from a fifth. He also could have taken sole command, but back-to-back bogeys on No. 14 and 15 put him in a hole that he dug out of with birdies on 16 and 18.
Warren and Rose are the only two men to have shot under 70 in each of the first two rounds. Rose added a 3-under 68 to his Day One 69 to stand at 5-under for the round. The Brit only hit one bogey n the day.
Mickelson followed up his Day One 68 with a 2-over 73, tying him for 19th with fellow American and current FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker at 1-under. Mickelson was in the Top 10 through 12 holes at 1-under, but had two bogeys, a birdie and a double in his last five holes to slide back down the slope.
The best round of the day belonged to England’s Paul Waring, who fired a 5-under 66 to leap from 118th to a tie for 19th at 1-under. Waring racked up four birdies on the front nine and added an eagle 3 on the 534-yard par 5 No. 12.
After looking so effortless on Day One, McIlroy did a 180 on Friday. He was 2-over at the turn after being 3-under a day earlier; and really bottomed out the back nine with three bogeys, all on holes he had birdied a day before, as well as a double on No. 12.
The cut fell at 2-over par, meaning the likes of Lee Westwood (3-over), Jonas Blixt (4-over), Sir Nick Faldo (4-over); Louis Oosthuizen (4-over), Victor Dubuisson (6-over) and Jamie Donaldson (6-over) can all start getting ready for The Open a bit earlier than expected.