INVERNESS, Scotland — Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson endured frustrating second rounds at the Scottish Open as the tournament’s headline acts were upstaged by some lesser-known players on Friday.
Chris Doak, ranked No. 341, was the surprise leader at the halfway stage of his home event after a second straight 66 left him at 12-under 132.
Matthew Southgate (64) was in a tie for second place with Ross Fisher (65), Peter Uihlein (66) and JB Hansen (65) a stroke back.
Conditions were ripe for low scoring on the Castle Stuart links but Els foundered on the greens and could only shoot a 2-under 70 to miss the cut a week before he defends his British Open title.
Mickelson, another four-time major winner, was tied for third after his first-round 66 but dropped back into a tie for 13th after a 70.
“I had no idea on these greens — I’m glad I’m leaving,” said Els, who still felt his game is in good shape heading to Muirfield.
Past British Open winners Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington joined Els in missing the weekend and defending Scottish Open champion Jeev Milkha Singh won’t be around either after a second-round 74.
That put the Indian on 3 under — a shot below the cut, which was the lowest this season on the European Tour.
It leaves Mickelson as the biggest draw for the galleries for the final two rounds and he said he is poised to make a charge in his bid to capture his first title on links.
“I was just a little bit off,” said the eighth-ranked American, who started off with a bogey for the second straight round but wowed the crowd with a wonderful lob shot onto the third green to set up one of his four birdies. “But I’m in a position where if I get a hot round, I can make up the ground.”
The last Scot to win his national Open was Colin Montgomerie in 1999 — but Doak has a great chance to end that barren run.
Wearing his signature flat cap in honor of his idol Ben Hogan, the 35-year-old Glaswegian thrilled the locals on a sunny, calm morning by the Moray Firth by making three birdies in the first six holes and then adding two more as well as an eagle 3 at No. 12.