Tyrrell Hatton will head into the weekend at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports with a three-shot lead after a day when home favourites delighted the huge crowds at Close House Golf Club.
The 25 year old followed up his opening 63 with a 65 to get 12 under and sit at the top of a leaderboard where seven of the top nine spots were occupied by Englishmen.
That included tournament host Lee Westwood, Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter, Ashley Chesters and Chris Hanson who shared second place with resurgent Swede Robert Karlsson.
Lee Slattery and Graeme Storm were then at eight under alongside Finn Mikko Ilonen.
Tyrrell Hatton – Really happy with morning’s work
Hatton – who will defend his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title next week – had made just three of his last ten cuts but finished tied for third at the Omega European Masters last time out and carried that form on to home turf.
Hatton got off to a flying start with a birdie on the tenth and when he added gains on the 12th and 13th – just as he had on day one – he was the first man this week into double figures.
He extended his lead to three with an 18-footer on the 17th and while that was cut, Hatton re-established his cushion with a beautiful approach to the fourth.
A poor tee-shot and second brought a bogey on the seventh but a lengthy putt on the par three eighth moved him back to 12 under and he was quick to praise stand-in caddie and old friend Jonathan Bell, who will be on his bag for the rest of the season.
We had a good result in Switzerland and hopefully we can have another good one here – Tyrrell Hatton
“Conditions weren’t easy this morning, obviously, with the rain coming down,” he said. “It made it quite difficult. I’m happy with my morning’s work.
“I feel like I’ve been sort of laughing a bit more, a bit more relaxed. I certainly think he’s helped me do that. But I think playing better certainly helps as well. So we had a good result in Switzerland and hopefully we can have another good one here.”
Westwood is the Tour professional at Close House and used his local knowledge to great effect as he stayed bogey-free over the first 36 holes, making birdies a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and adding further gains on the first and fourth.
Poulter beat that run with four in a row from the 12th and while an excellent chip allowed him to take advantage of the par five sixth, he dropped a shot on the next before holing a lengthy putt on the eighth.
Chesters is battling to keep his card at 106th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and he produced six birdies and two bogeys to put himself right in the mix.
Karlsson – the 2008 Order of Merit winner – has no concerns over his playing privileges and the 48 year old rolled back the years with six birdies and a bogey.
Hanson was treading water after three birdies and two bogeys in his first 11 holes but an eagle on the par five sixth fired him up the leaderboard.
Slattery stayed bogey-free for the week in posting a 67, a score matched by Storm, while Ilonen signed for a 68.
Irish pair Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry, French duo Grégory Havret and Joël Stalter, 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, last week’s winner Lucas Bjerregaard, German Florian Fritsch, Scot Richie Ramsay and South African Richard Sterne were at six under.