Georgia Hall moved firmly into contention for a second AIG Women’s Open title after claiming a share of the lead in the second round at Carnoustie.
The 25-year-old was among the early starters who took advantage of calm conditions over the Angus links to sign for a three-under 69 and a 36-hole total of seven-under-par.
Hall, the 2018 champion at Royal Lytham & St Annes, carded six birdies and recovered from a double bogey at the 15th to par the tricky final three holes and remain at the top alongside American Mina Harigae.
From the third group of the day, Harigae also thrived and closed with four birdies in her last seven holes to sign for a superb five-under-par 67.
The Californian, 31, was runner-up in July’s Marathon LPGA Classic and is in form as she seeks a first main tour win and to improve on her best finish in the Championship, a tie for 28th in 2018.
With joint-overnight leader and world number one Nelly Korda slipping to a one-over-par 73 for a four-under-par total, there is a congested leaderboard going into the weekend.
Another American player, Lizette Salas, reached six-under-par after back-to-back rounds of 69 and she shares third place with world number four Sei Young Kim, who added a 71 to her opening 67.
Seven players are well-placed at five-under-par, including Ireland’s Leona Maguire, who shot a bogey-free 67, and the USA’s Lexi Thompson (70). Also on that mark are Moriya Jutanugarn (67), Yealimi Noh (69), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (69), U.S. Women’s Open Champion Yuka Saso (71) and Wichanee Meechai, who finished birdie-birdie late in the day for a clean card of 68.
Amateur Louise Duncan, playing with Hall, continued to cheer the home fans as the Scot, 21, comfortably made the cut on three-under-par to lead the chase for the prestigious Smyth Salver as top amateur – ahead of Lauren Walsh and Annabell Fuller on one-under-par and level-par respectively.
Megan Khang produced the low round of the week, a brilliant six-under-par 66, to surge through the field and reach one-under-par, making the cut by two shots.
Yet an even more spectacular charge came from Steph Kyriacou as the day neared a close. The Australian was four over and heading for a missed cut when she turned in 40, but Kyriacou then came back in 30 with four birdies and an eagle at 12, ensuring she soared to two-under.
The top 65 and ties progressed to the weekend on one-over-par, with defending champion Sophia Popov among those to miss out on three-over. Dame Laura Davies, 57, can look forward to the final 36 holes after finishing on level par thanks to a fine two-under-par 70, which featured seven birdies.