Sweden’s Alex Noren came home in just 31 shots at Castle Stuart Golf Links to snatch the halfway lead at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
The four-time European Tour winner was four shots adrift of clubhouse leader Danny Lee when he carded a solitary a birdie at the 12th in an outward 35.
But gains at the second, third, sixth, seventh and eighth gave Noren a joint-best of the day 66 and eight under par total in Inverness.
Lee, seeking a second European Tour title having won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic as an 18 year old amateur, also carded a flawless second round of 66 to share second place with England’s Eddie Pepperell – who eagled the 12th en route to a 67 – on seven under.
Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who broke Lee’s record as the youngest European Tour winner in 2010, South African Branden Grace, England’s Richard Bland and Spain’s Jorge Campillo all reached six under to share fourth on a day of low scoring.
In stark contrast, only two players had broken 70 on Thursday, but Noren – who finished third here in 2012 – believes he will need to go low at the weekend to win.
“I like this place,” he said. “It’s a really fun course to play. A few very tricky holes and then a few holes where you can go for the green in two on the par fives and you can reach I think two greens today on the par four in one, which is very fun for us. Some weeks, we play courses where it’s tough all the way around, and here, it’s kind of a really nice mix, so I like it.
“It wasn’t easy but I managed to hit some good shots. It got better and better – I played steady on the front nine, and then my last nine holes, I really got it going.
“It’s always nice when you get it going and then another birdie maybe drops, and that’s what happened today.”
Lee’s round meant good news for the people affected by the devastating floods which forced the US PGA Tour to cancel this week’s Greenbrier Classic.
Denied the chance to defend his title, Lee decided to play in Scotland but donate money for every birdie (500 US dollars) and eagle (1,000 US dollars) he makes to the flood-relief efforts in West Virginia.