Tommy Fleetwood pleasantly surprised by record-breaking round at Carnoustie
Tommy Fleetwood admitted to being pleasantly surprised by his form after shooting a Carnoustie course-record 63 on Friday to claim a share of the halfway lead.
The 26-year-old has recently become a father and has only played one week in seven in the lead-up to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship but after day two he tops the leaderboard alongside defending champion Tyrrell Hatton.
Fleetwood, the leader in the Race to Dubai standings, shot a blemish-free nine-under round at the venue for next year's Open to move onto 11 under with Hatton, who did not drop a shot either in a seven-under 65.
Asked how it felt to break the course record, Fleetwood told alfreddunhilllinks.com: "I had been practising while I was at home but I had a week where I didn't do anything. That week feels like a year when you're in the middle of it.
"I was kind of pleasantly surprised when I came on the range on Tuesday. I hit it all right but yesterday I played OK and I really enjoyed being back playing and being back in competition where every shot counts.
"It doesn't matter how much you play at home or what you do, it's not the same, so to have a course record, especially on a golf course like this, it's brilliant to have. It's a very proud moment."
Fleetwood and Hatton lead by one shot from Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, who shot 67 at St Andrews after recovering from a double bogey on his first hole.
First-round joint leader Paul Dunne was in a tie for fourth at nine under with Germany's Marcel Siem after carding 68 at Carnoustie.
World number six Rory McIlroy, hoping to end a frustrating year with a win, was overshadowed by Fleetwood, who was one of his playing partners.
McIlroy ended the day 11 shots off the lead on level par after a 71 which included a double-bogey seven on the sixth hole. With the cut coming after 54 holes, the Northern Irishman is not yet out of the tournament but he must make up a lot of ground as he plays Kingsbarns on Saturday.
Fleetwood's impressive round included a run of five successive birdies on the back nine. He almost extended that sequence to six when a birdie putt from off the green on the 16th narrowly missed the hole.
He might even have had an eagle on the 15th too when his second shot at the par four bounced onto the green and hit the flag.
He finished his round in style by picking up his ninth birdie at the 18th.
"Today, I played well and putted well," said Fleetwood. "It just unravels really. Sometimes it does that. Most of the time, those are your best rounds when you don't quite realise what you're doing.
"But I had that really hot streak from 11 where I had good chances: seven, eight, nine - all chances that burnt the edge. Yeah, I made the most of the par fives and holed a couple of putts, and there you go."