Nick Faldo, who revealed he had been close to ending one of the greatest careers in European golf, underlined his own claim that "there’s life in the old dog yet" by moving into a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Standard Life Loch Lomond. The six times major champion winner joins Ernie Els, Richard Green, Jarmo Sandelin and 19-year-old Adam Scott at 136, six under par.
Faldo, whose last win was the 1997 Nissan Open in Los Angeles and last European Tour victory was in 1994, looks to have ended a long slump after adding a second-round 69 to his opening 67.
He said: "I thought for a while that the mountain was too high to climb. But I've slowly chipped away and I know we’re getting a lot closer. We’re at the snow now.
"Last year I was contemplating that a decision was going to have to be made at the end of the year as to whether I was going to continue. How much longer was I going to play?”
But with the help of Swedish sports psychologist Kjell Enhager he has “peeled away the layers of negative thinking”.
He said: “I’m rebuilding, coming back. All I want to do is get in there and scare them again. That’s what’s inspiring me to play some good golf, or some great golf at the right end of the leaderboard.”
Faldo, approaching his 43rd birthday and now in his 25th year on Tour, provided evidence of his return to form with his seventh place finish in the US Open at Pebble Beach last month and now again finds himself on top of the leaderboard.
Scott, who only turned professional last month, was by no means overawed by playing with Faldo and another Open Champion Tom Lehman as he completed a solid one under par 70 to share the halfway lead. The young Australian, who reaches the age of 20 on Sunday, recorded two top ten finishes on the European Tour as an amateur and looks destined for great things.
“On top is a good place to be and hopefully I’ll be there come Saturday night,” he said. "I hit a few poor shots and made bogey but hit some good ones too. Watching Nick, a six-time major champion, is something you learn from, watching him get round the course.
“Over the next two rounds I think there is room for a lot of improvement. I’m a little loose with my irons. But obviously everyone’s goal is to win the tournament but right now it’s about staying around the leaders and hopefully coming down the stretch I might have a chance.”
Among those also on six under par is Els, twice a winner of the US Open and runner-up in both this season’s major championships. His round got off to the perfect start as he holed a bunker shot on the third for an eagle three and then picked up three more birdies before dropping his only shot of the day on the short 17th.
“I really played the front nine very well,” he said. “I missed two greens but felt I was hitting the ball right and made some putts. The back nine was a lot more demanding as the wind picked up but it was a good day out there.”
Playing alongside Els was Swedish Ryder Cup player Jarmo Sandelin, who got to nine under par after five birdies in an outward half of 31. But a bogey on the tenth was followed by a double bogey on the 12th as he fell back into the pack.
“I was going to hit a three wood from the 12th tee but saw the big boys hitting driver and changed my mind,” he said. “I lost it to the right and had no shot. I should have played my own game and after that it was a struggle to make pars. I lost my momentum.”
Left-hander Green got to six under at the turn after picking up four birdies in the space of five holes from the fifth but was unable to build on his good start and made no further progress. Nevertheless he is well placed for a good weekend which could earn him an exemption to the Open Championship next week.
Among those a shot off the pace is the 1997 champion Tom Lehman, Notah Begay III, the winner of back-to-back titles on the US Tour, and Michael Campbell, twice a European Tour winner this season. Defending champion Colin Montgomerie is a shot further back.
The cut fell at three over par with 74 players including three amateurs progressing to the last two rounds.