Open champion Ernie Els admitted he was glad to miss the cut in the Scottish Open, just days before the defence of his title at Muirfield, as unheralded Scot Chris Doak claimed a one-shot lead at Castle Stuart.
Els made an early exit after a second round of 70 left him two under par, ten shots behind Doak and two outside the cut mark after another day of low scoring in perfect conditions.
“I thought I played quite well but I had no idea on these greens so I am glad I am leaving to get on some other greens,” the 43-year-old South African said. “A missed cut is not great but we have had a great time here. “My game is where I want it to be. It did not quite go my way these last two days and I made a couple of silly errors, soft bogeys. It’s not the first cut I’ve missed and it won’t be the last.”
Stephen Gallacher also missed the cut at Castle Stuart, by one stroke, but he too remains upbeat for next week’s Open.
Doak, who previously made headlines in Scotland after blaming a bad night’s sleep at a tournament in 2011 on his dog’s flatulence, is playing only his second full season on the European Tour at the age of 35. But the Glaswegian carded a second consecutive 66 to finish one shot ahead of English pair Matthew Southgate and Ross Fisher, American Peter Uihlein and Denmark’s JB Hansen, with world No.8 Phil Mickelson four off the lead on eight under after a 70.
“The first time around on the European Tour I was still wet behind the ears but the Challenge Tour definitely taught me how to play four rounds and handle the travel,” said Doak, whose previous biggest payday of £28,000 is dwarfed by the first prize this week of £500,000.
“It’s a tough environment because there are a lot of great players out there and you need to be consistent because there is not as much money. But anything that’s worth learning takes time and hopefully it’s coming together now.“It’s fantastic to shoot 66 and follow it up with another one and I’m really pleased.”