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Danny Willett keeps up the pressure on Hatton

Tyrrell Hatton continues to set the pace in search of an unprecedented third Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but Danny Willett is one of several dangerous rivals in pursuit – and the former Masters champion also has a share of the lead in the Team Championship

Everything seems to be going according to plan for Tyrrell Hatton, as he chases a record third Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but the competition is beginning to hot up.

Danny Willett edged a shot nearer with a 69 to Hatton’s 70 at Kingsbarns in the second round, but he still remains two shots behind as the two Englishmen go into the third round on the Old Course.

Also very much in the mix are England’s Daniel Gavins, who shot an impressive 68 at Carnoustie to be on his own in second place on nine-under-par, while China’s Haotong Li is on eight-under-par alongside Willett after a 72 on the Old Course.

On a day of strong winds, scoring was significantly lower and any round under par was worth its weight in gold.

Willett, who won the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship in 2016 playing with Jonathan Smart, who is caddying for him here, said: “I feel like we got a nice amount out of that round. It's tough out there. It’s nice coming in here, having shot five-under-par in the first round.”

He says he is looking forward to St Andrews. “Yes, I love the golf course. The pins are very similar year-on-year, so fingers crossed. We’ve got lucky so far, 36 holes, and hopefully another 36 with the wind and no rain.”

Hatton agreed it was tough. “I'm happy with how I scored. It was quite easy to make mistakes. Very easy to hit bad shots. I guess I was fortunate at times when I did hit a bad shot, I didn't end up in too much of a dodgy position. I had a couple of three-putts today, but that’s easy to do with the wind.”

Daniel Gavins, 30, had probably the toughest task of the leaders, having to play Carnoustie in the challenging wind, but he showed admirable patience. The highlight of his round was an eagle at the ‘Spectacles’ par five, 14th hole. Gavins is enjoying a good year after his first European Tour victory at the ISPS Handa World Invitational.

It was a doubly successful day for Willett as he and his amateur partner Jimmy Dunne share the lead in the Team Championship with Oliver Fisher and Manish Chopra on 18-under-par.