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Uihlein verges on history, Lewis leads

ESPN staff
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Uihlein took advantage of good scoring conditions at Kingsbarns © Getty Images
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Peter Uihlein came agonisingly close to the European Tour's first ever 59, but it is Englishman Tom Lewis who will hold the lead going in to the weekend at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

American Uihlein, who has decided to play his golf on this side of the Atlantic this season, needed to eagle Kingsbarns' par-5 ninth - his 18th - in order to make history.

And the 20-year-old gave himself a good shot at it, leaving around 20-feet for the three that would have put him in the record books, but the putt, which looked in all the way, drifted agonisingly wide and he was made to settle for a course-record 60 - and becoming the 16th player and 17th round of that score on the European Tour, with Darren Clarke having achieved the feat on two separate occasions.

Starting at the 10th, Uihlein birdied 11 before an eagle at 12 and two more birdies at 17 and 18 saw him out in 31. He then birdied the second before his second eagle of the day at three were followed by birdies at six and seven. He needed to play his last two holes in 2-under par for the elusive 59, but could only manage a par and a birdie.

"I knew I needed to make an eagle and I thought I hit a good putt," Uihlein said. "I thought it would come back to the right but it kept going left.

"Today started off with me hitting it close and not making anything and then I started holing it from everywhere. It was just one of those days that went for me.

"When I made that birdie on the 17th to go 11 under that was the first time 59 crossed my mind. I was in the zone out there and it was cool. I am definitely not as calm underneath but I just tried to stay with my routines and keep the same swing thought.

"I put a lot of work in during the off-season and even on my off weeks I'm still practising and grinding so it's nice to see the results so quickly."

Uihlein heads to the third round two shots off leader Lewis, who followed up his first day 64 with a 65 over St Andrews' famous Old Course to reach 15-under par.

Lewis, currently 155th in the Race to Dubai, has carded a number of fine opening rounds this season before falling away in the second round.

But he banished his Friday blues to lead in-form Joost Luiten by one.

"Seven under is a good score at St Andrews but there was no wind today so I think you would be disappointed if you did not shoot better than five under," Lewis, the silver medallist at the Open Championship in 2012.

"I feel like I am home again. Links golf suits me, I won the St Andrews Links Trophy here in 2011 and it's great to come back. I knew I had good form coming in but Friday has been my enemy this year so it's good to get it out of the way."

First-round co-leaders Oliver Wilson and Richard McEvoy are alongside Uihlein at 13-under, as are Hennis Otto, Mark Foster and Tommy Fleetwood.

It was not such a good day for another of the first-round co-leaders, Mark Tullo, who carded a 6-over 78 at Carnoustie - considered the most difficult of the three courses - to fall back to 2-under par and a tie for 108th place. Branden Grace has work to do if he is to defend the title he won here last year. The South African is currently 10 off the pace at 5-under.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard

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