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Kings of Carnoustie

They say Carnoustie is the most difficult of the three courses in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but it looked anything but that as outstanding young golfer Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Tyrrell Hatton powered to the top of the leaderboard.

Both played near faultless rounds. Fleetwood’s 63, which included nine birdies, was a new course record, while there were seven birdies in Hatton’s 65.

For Fleetwood victory would be a unique way to celebrate the birth of his son Franklin last week.

For Hatton it opens up the realistic prospect of becoming the first man ever to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links titles.

They now share the lead on 11-under-par, one ahead of Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, and will renew their battle in their third rounds at Kingsbarns tomorrow. Ireland’s Paul Dunne and Germany’s Marcel Siem are a further shot back.

Fleetwood said: “Any time you have a course record, especially on a golf course like this, it’s brilliant to have. I’m very proud at the moment.”

He has only played one week in seven leading up to the Alfred Dunhill Links and added: “I have been practising while I was at home, but I really enjoyed being back in competition where every shot counts. I was pleasantly surprised when I came on to the range on Tuesday.”

Hatton said: “I’m happy with today’s round. Got lucky a couple of times, but obviously you need that. The putter came alive for me.

“It’s great to be back and have good memories from last year. I’ve come into this event with a bit of form and I’m happy that I’m carrying it on. Hopefully I can have a good one at Kingsbarns.”

Former World No 1 Luke Donald looked like he was also putting a competitive round together at Carnoustie, especially after a run of five birdies after the turn, but he undid the good work with a bogey at the 17th and a double bogey at the 18th for a 70 to finish on four-under-par.

Leading Scot was David Drysdale who had a 67 at Kingsbarns to remain in contention three shots behind the leaders, along with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Bernd Ritthammer and Matt Wallace.

World No 6 Rory McIlroy, playing with father Gerry in the Team Championship, had a 71 at Carnoustie and is on level par for the Championship.

Leaders in the Team Championship are Gregory Bourdy and Aidan Heavey on 21-under-par, one shot ahead of Yikeun Chang and Erwee Botha.

One of the most popular amateurs has been former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who is playing with Maximilian Kieffer. He said: “Golf is a hobby for me, but I wish I could get better. It’s really enjoyable to come here again and play alongside the professionals and other amateurs from lots of different fields. One thing is different between boxing and golf, though: they don’t boo you in golf if you do something wrong! They just stay silent.