|Scottish Open first-round leaderboard|
|-11 L Herbert (Aus); -10 R Rock (Eng); -9 L Westwood (Eng), I Poulter (Eng); -8 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra); -7 J Luiten (Ned), K Samooja (Fin), M Kinhult (Swe). Selected others: -5 T Fleetwood (Eng); -1 R MacIntyre (Sco), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), P Harrington (Ire); +1 G McDowell (NI)|
Ian Poulter is ready to "batten down the hatches" on a wild Scottish Open weekend as he bids to end his eight-year wait for a European Tour title.
The Ryder Cup talisman trails halfway leader Lucas Herbert by two shots at the Renaissance Club after adding a 66 to his opening 67 to share third place with Lee Westwood on nine under par.
Robert Rock is one off the lead, with Craig Lee the top Scot on six under.
"The weather forecast looks horrific," said Poulter.
"It's 20mph winds and a couple of inches of rain. You can be blown off the course easily, but we're at the right end of the leaderboard to try and batten down the hatches, dig in deep and hold strong."
Florida-based Poulter admitted he is missing the "buzz" of playing in front of fans after plans to allow 650 spectators on Saturday and Sunday were scuppered by a tightening of Covid-19 restrictions.
"I love sport and it just doesn't feel the same at the moment as we can't get people together," the 44-year-old added. "We're playing golf with no adrenaline and that's difficult."
Scottish pair Scott Jamieson and Grant Forrest are in contention at five under alongside Tommy Fleetwood.
But Paul Lawrie bowed out at the halfway stage in his 620th and final European Tour event, with a 79 leaving him 10 over.
"Today shows exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing," said the 51-year-old. "I can't play at this level when my back's terrible so it's the right thing to do."
First-round leader Westwood could only follow Thursday's brilliant 62 with a 71 to fall two shots behind Australia's Herbert, despite the players with late-early tee times benefiting from considerably easier conditions over the first two days.
Herbert - who contemplated quitting last year as he struggled with his game - posted the low round of the day with a six-under 65 as he chases a second European Title success after winning the Dubai Desert Classic in January.
"I turned up here on Wednesday and hit it all over the place," said the 24-year-old.
"I wasn't expecting too much the last few days, but it's kind of all come together nicely. Iron play has been great, which has taken the pressure off."