Rose in hunt as Brooks leads

Rose recovered from a bogey at the first to fire a second straight 66 despite rating his game at only 50 per cent and being clearly shaken after a wayward drive at the 16th struck a spectator on the head.

The former US Open champion made five birdies in seven holes from the second and parred the last 10 to remain at eight under along with??Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Ryan Palmer, Matt??Nixon and Johan Carlsson ??? three behind Brooks.

Rose admitted he was concerned for the welfare of the elderly spectator he hit after pulling his drive into the galleries at 16, and his injury caused a young fan to faint at the sight of the resulting blood.

“You can’t quite see where the spectator line is on that hole and when I saw the ball bounce up I was hoping it had maybe hit one of the white stakes,” Rose said. “Whenever you see the ball jump into the air, it’s not hitting anywhere soft.

“I was pretty concerned walking up there. There didn’t seem to be a commotion,??but then I saw someone was on the ground. You hope it’s not a kid, you hope it’s??not a woman; obviously it was an elderly gentleman, but he took it like a??trooper and was talking to me so that was slightly reassuring.

“He told me had been coming to tournaments for years and years and had never??got hit before.”

Speaking about his round, Rose said his game was “running at 50 per cent”,??adding: “There are still a couple of loose shots that I am getting away with on??this course that I wouldn’t on other courses. But I feel like I have managed my game well, played the hard holes well and kept it clean.”

Playing partner Phil Mickelson, who won the 2013 Open a mile down the road at??Muirfield, was in danger of missing the halfway cut when he bogeyed the 11th and??12th, but he responded in style with a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th salvaging a 68 to finish??three under.

“For me to make the cut the way I putted the first two days is surprising,”??the 45-year-old said. “I feel really good about some of the things I’ve been??working on in my golf swing. The last piece will be the putter. I don’t want to??worry about that right now.”

Lowry, ninth at last month’s US Open, continued his good form with a 66 and admitted afterwards that his improved results over the last year have been down to a more stable home life.

“I’ve settled down a lot and matured a lot,” said Lowry. Everything in my life is a lot more stable and my golf is reaping the benefits. I’ve always had belief in myself. No matter what tournament I play I feel like I can do well and compete. Whether it’s a normal tournament or a major, I just want to play well.

“I think a lot of people have been caught up in recent weeks about me winning??majors; I think I’ve got a lot to achieve before I win a major. If one gets in??the way between now and then, I’ll take it happily. That’s the way I feel my??career is going.”

Brooks, who fired four birdies and an eagle in his 65, won the Madeira Islands??Open in 2014, an event reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather delays and??overshadowed by the death of Alastair Forsyth’s caddie Iain McGregor on the??course during the final round.

“I’ve played some terrible golf since then but it’s started to come back,”??said Brooks, who had missed 13 cuts in a row this season before finishing 20th??in France last week. “To miss that many cuts, it does get you down. But you??only need one good week.

“Madeira feels like a long time ago now. With Mac passing away, I didn’t have??time to celebrate, it wasn’t a nice feeling. I got a win but it put a downer on??it.”

But it was a horrendous day for first-round leader Thorbjorn Olesen, who amazingly missed the halfway cut after crashing to a 77 on Friday, 14 shots worse than his opening 63.