McDowell survives to continue chase for Open berth
Robert Rock moved flawlessly to the head of affairs in the ASI Scottish Open as three of Irish golf's four-pronged challenge missed the four-under cut.
Paul Dunne can now to join former Open champions Phil Mickelson, Darren Clarke and Pádraig Harrington on an early reconnaissance mission to Carnoustie to prepare for The Open after a rash of low scoring saw him miss out by a shot.
The Greystones star (25) looked to have done enough to squeeze in two more rounds at Gullane when he birdied the par-three 17th.
A level-par 70 left him tied for 51st as he headed for lunch but ended up missing the cut by the minimum as the wind dropped and the field took advantage.
Morning starter Rock (41) added a seven-under 63 to his opening 64, going bogey-free for the second day running to lead by two on 13-under from Tyrrell Hatton and Swede Jens Dantorp with Eddie Pepperell and Rickie Fowler a shot further back.
Graeme McDowell is eight strokes behind, tied for 40th on five-under after a 66. But the Portrush man can still take advantage of a morning tee-time to make a big move up the leaderboard and challenge for one of three exemptions for Carnoustie.
Rock said: "Some guys tomorrow morning could get the course in perfect order and shoot seven- or eight-under par like they have done in previous weeks and later on you could get rain and wind and level-par is good then."
Mickelson missed the cut by three shots after shooting a 69 alongside a struggling Harrington, who finished near the back on the field on four-over after a 71, as Clarke faded after a hot start and shot 69 to finish on level-par.
"I'll head over to Carnoustie and try to make it a positive and have a few extra rounds over there," Mickelson said. "I had a pretty good idea of how it's going to play when I spent time there on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I expect it to be very firm and fast."
McDowell could be inspired by Japan's Hideto Tanihara, who needed two closing birdies for the European Tour's first 59 but had to settle for a nine-under-par, course record 61 that catapulted him from 125th to 15th on seven-under.
Qualifying for The Open will be an uphill task for Seamus Power, who shot a second successive 68 to trail Canada's David Hearn by six strokes at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic where the leading finisher in the top five will earn his spot at Carnoustie.
Hearn fired eight birdies in a seven-under 64 at TPC Deer run to lead by a shot in the clubhouse on 12-under from Francesco Molinari, who shot 66 as he bids for his third win in five starts worldwide.
On the Challenge Tour, Ruaidhri McGee, Michael Hoey and Gavin Moynihan are chasing Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg in the Italian Challenge in Sardinia. Soderberg (27) fired a four-under 67 to lead by two strokes on 11-under par at Is Molas Resort.
But the surviving Irish trio all shot three-under 68s with McGee just four shots behind in joint fifth, one stroke better than Hoey and Moynihan, who are tied for ninth on six-under. Dermot McElroy missed the two-under cut by a shot after 71 with Paul McBride (72) on one-over, Gary Hurley (74) and Cormac Sharvin (73) two-over, and Stephen Grane (73) five-over all missing out.
On the Staysure Tour, Paul McGinley is six shots behind Welshman Stephen Dodd, who opened with a course record of 64 to take a four-shot lead in the Senior Open in Germany.
As McGinley fired a two-under 70 to share seventh in Vorbeck, Dodd (51) made nine birdies in an eight-under round. Philip Walton was 43rd after a three-over 74 with Ronan Rafferty and Brendan McGovern tied 48th after 76s, Des Smyth tied 51st after a 77 and Eamonn Darcy joint 56th after a 78.
- Scottish Open: Live, Sky Sports Golf, 3.0pm, John Deere Classic Live, Sky Sports, 8.0pm