Clark, who has previously captained Scotland in the Men’s Home Internationals, was in blistering form during a remarkable round in which he carded nine birdies on the championship course at Nairn, including four-in-a-row on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th holes.

He also picked up a crucial shot on the last hole to ensure he finished one stroke clear of Jack Dyer on an eight-under-par total of 134.

Today’s 62 beats the previous course record of 64 jointly held by Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup captain and former Amateur Champion, Stuart Wilson, and local member Fraser Fotheringham, who is also playing in this year’s championship.

“It’s a nice place to get a course record but I think you’d give that and the 62 up to hold the trophy on Saturday. That’s what we’ve all come here for and they’ll all be gunning for the guy who did something good today. There’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of talented players here so let’s see how it goes," Clark said.

Dyer, who played for Great Britain and Ireland under Wilson in the Walker Cup last month, carded a four-under-par round of 67 that included five birdies to follow up yesterday’s round of 68 on the Moray links. The Englishman picked up shots on the 7th, 9th, 10th, 15th and 17th holes, with the only blemish being a bogey on the par-4 16th, to finish in second place on a seven-under-par total of 135.

“It’s a nice place to get a course record but I think you’d give that and the 62 up to hold the trophy on Saturday. That’s what we’ve all come here for." – Matthew Clark

Three shots further back on a four-under-par total of 138 are Gregor Tait and Luke O’Neill. Tait, who plays out of Aldeburgh, also posted a round of 67 that included six birdies to join the Irishman on the same mark. O’Neill shot a three-under-par 68 in today’s second round of qualifying.

Nairn local Calum Scott had delighted the home contingent following his progress when he led stroke play qualifying overnight with a bogey-free round of 67 that included four birdies.

The 17-year-old, whose brother Sandy played in the Walker Cup two years ago, played steady golf in today’s second round, with a double-bogey six on the 12th and bogies at the 4th and 14th holes undoing the good work he had made in securing birdies on the 1st, 10th and 18th. His one-over-par 72 meant the Scot finished on three-under-par 139.

Five others finished two shots further adrifit and were tied on the one-under-par mark. 

The cut mark fell at six-over-par, with the top 64 players qualifying for the match play stage. Ties for 64th place were decided on a card countback.

With the match play stage starting from tomorrow through to Sunday’s 36-hole final, there is much at stake as the winner gains an exemption into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament and an exemption into the US Open.

The 36 hole final round will be live broadcast on The R&A’s YouTube and Facebook accounts as well as on