There is a three-way tie for the lead at halfway point of the Scottish Open, but it was Rory McIlroy making the headlines on day two after enduring another frightful Friday that saw him tumble down the leaderboard.
McIlroy set a new course record of 64 at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday, but as the wind changed direction so did the former world number one, who stumbled to a 78 that had him battling to make the halfway cut.
His first-round scoring average of just under 68 leads the PGA Tour but his second-round average is almost five shots worse, with rounds of 63 and 78 in the Memorial Tournament the worst example of a worrying trend and part of a run of shooting 40 or more for nine holes in four straight events in America.
McIlroy needed another 40 shots to cover the back nine in Aberdeen and had to save par from greenside bunkers on the 17th and 18th to make sure of being around for the weekend.
"It's been the case all year. I've got off to great starts and fell away but I am still in the tournament and I can go out in the morning and try to get some of those shots back," the 25-year-old said.
"You are having to talk about it (his Friday performances) so it's in your mind and I am maybe putting more pressure on myself to shoot a good score. It's another Friday out of the way, thank God, and I can go on to the weekend. I shot 68 on the Friday at the US Open so hopefully next week will be the same."
Asked if he was shell-shocked, McIlroy added: "Yeah, a little bit. I just thought everything today was much tougher. When I woke up this morning and went to the gym the wind didn't seem like it was up as much as it is now, so I wasn't expecting this tough a test.
"The wind direction yesterday was definitely easier but I'm glad that I've seen this wind direction today because I think that's what we're going to get again tomorrow. So at least I've played a round in it and I know what for expect."
Late stumble for Gonzalez
McIlroy’s 78 featured six bogeys and a double, which came at the par-five 12th, and leaves him six shots behind leading trio Ricardo Gonzalez (71), Marc Warren (69) and Kristoffer Broberg (71).
It had looked like Gonzalez – who admitted to being boosted by his native Argentina reaching the World Cup final – would end the day with the outright lead, but a double at the 18th in the fading light ensured he dropped back to six-under alongside his co-leaders.
In contrast to Ryder Cup team-mate McIlroy, Justin Rose went from woeful on Wednesday to title contender on Friday, carding a 68 to finish five under par and just one off the pace.
Rose, who won at Congressional a fortnight ago, said: "I came here on Wednesday and felt absolutely horrendous. It was like I had lost my game somewhere over the Atlantic, but the last couple of days I have been finding my feet again and that's part of the reason for playing this week ahead of Hoylake.
"It was great to see the course in a completely opposite wind. The par-fives are playing very easy on the front nine and there are some tough par fours on the back nine. I did well to hang on to my score on the back nine and made a few good six or seven-footers coming in."
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo had threatened to produce something special when he birdied the fourth and fifth and holed from 40 feet for an eagle on the sixth, but the 56-year-old dropped four shots in five holes from the eighth and eventually carded a second consecutive 73 to finish four-over-par.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald carded rounds of 73 to finish one and two-under respectively, but Ian Poulter ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th to miss the cut along with Lee Westwood.