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Graeme McDowell leads before storm cuts short play
July 9, 2011

Thunderstorms and heavy rain disrupted the Scottish Open second round on Friday but not before 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had made his mark.

The Briton’s flawless eight-under-par 64, his best European Tour return for eight months, took McDowell to 11-under 133 for a share of the lead with local favourites Scott Jamieson and Peter Whiteford of Scotland who carded 66s.

The trio are a stroke ahead of Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara who also posted a 66.

The leaders enjoyed perfect morning conditions but the afternoon’s bad weather played havoc with those trying to catch them and a second suspension for lightning ended play for the day just before 1800 GMT.

McDowell recognised he had enjoyed the best of the day’s weather after the Northern Irishman fired his lowest European Tour round since a 63 in the Hong Kong Open last November.

“I realised conditions were going to be easy when I woke up and I knew the course was there for the taking,” McDowell told reporters after including an eagle and six birdies in his score.

“Like any links course in the world, if you don’t get the elements it will be taken apart.”

McDowell was delighted to be showing such good form the week before the British Open and happy he had at last cleared his head of his maiden major success at Pebble Beach, having handed the U.S. Open crown over to his compatriot Rory McIlroy.

“I feel quite fresh in mind now, like a subconscious weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” he said.

“I really shouldn’t be complaining about the burden of being the U.S. Open champion but I really wanted to push on. There’s another Northern Irishman (McIlroy) to take all the attention off me next week as well.”

However, it was a miserable afternoon for the likes of world number one Luke Donald, number two Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie, who is making a last-ditch bid to claim a British Open spot from a top finish at Castle Stuart.

Westwood and Donald, who could swap places in the world rankings on Sunday, were locked together on seven-under when the hooter brought the players in early, leaving 78 afternoon starters to complete their rounds.

Westwood had played 11 holes while Donald had just reached the turn. Montgomerie, playing with Donald, was a shot worse on six-under.

Double major winner Angel Cabrera and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie matched McDowell’s 64 in the morning to share fifth place on nine-under with Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (66).

World number six Phil Mickelson trails the lead by seven strokes after a 67.

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