Forget the doom and gloom being spouted by the Met Office about the weekend’s weather. There was a Stark warning sounded at Dundonald Links yesterday as a surging Swede went on the attack.

Maja Stark’s seven-under 65 in the second round of the Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open hauled her right into contention as the 23-year-old finished just two strokes behind Japanese frontrunner, Hinako Shibuno.

Mounting the kind of robust, driving offensive that could have been directed by a tank commander from a turret, Stark chopped into Shibuno’s advantage with a run of five birdies in a row on her back-nine to get to 10-under.

Shibuno, who led the way overnight after an opening 64, staved off those menacing advances with a spirited 68 to fortify her position at the summit at 12-under but Stark’s thrust had given the leader plenty to think about.

All that Stark could think about during the early part of her round, meanwhile, was a searing headache.

“It was there for the first six holes and every time I went down to read a putt, it felt as though my forehead was bursting,” admitted Stark with a grimace. Funnily enough, some Herald readers experience a similarly excruciating sensation when they digest this correspondent’s haverings from the golfing frontline.

“I got some painkillers and on the ninth hole, the headache went away and I felt I could play with no obstacles and no excuses,” added Stark.

A three-putt bogey on the 10th almost had her reaching for the paracetamol again but, instead of dwelling on that lapse, Stark used the set-back as a catalyst for her assault. “That bogey sharpened me up,” she added. A wonderful display of controlled, clinical golf led to that burst of five birdies from the 12th and, at one stage, it got her to within a shot of Shibuno.

“Nope,” was Stark’s honest reply when asked if she could remember when she last reeled off such a profitable run of birdies.

Having turned professional in 2021, Stark has packed six Ladies European Tour wins into her relatively short career in the paid ranks. If she continues to play and putt like she did yesterday over the closing 36-holes, a seventh could come her way. “From the beginning of this year I started putting six hours a week when I was out at tournaments,” she said of her dedicated drills with the flat stick. “That became a little bit much so I try to balance it. I do a lot of focus putting, trying to match read with speed.”

Shibuno, aiming to follow up the Dundonald triumph of her compatriot Ayaka Furue last year, spilled her only shot of the week on the first hole but bounced back with a bag of five birdies, including a crucial one on the last which doubled her advantage over the lurking Stark.

Celine Boutier, fresh from her maiden major victory in last weekend’s Evian Championship, upped her title tilt and a 68 left the 2022 Women’s Scottish Open runner-up on seven-under. Sweden’s hugely talented Linn Grant, whose grandfather James was a Scottish Boys’ champion back in the 1950s, moved to four-under after a 69.

Elsewhere in the field, Ayrshire’s Louise Duncan kept the saltire fluttering in the upper echelons as the Scot posted a canny 71 for a two-under total.

At 23, the West Kilbride rookie is just starting off on her touring journey. In this game of rapidly rising stars, though, you can still feel like something of a veteran despite the tender years.

Back when she was an amateur, Duncan played alongside the all-conquering Lydia Ko in the Women’s Scottish Open Pro-Am. Ko was only 20 then but had already won 14 tour titles and two major championships.

“She was only a couple of years older than me but I didn’t realise that,” reflected Duncan. “She was a world No 1, she’d won loads of times and at that time, I didn’t think I would be turning pro.”

Presumably, there was an intimidation factor? Well, not quite. “I remember out driving her on the fifth hole so I was quite happy with that,” recalled Duncan with a smile. “I then played with her in the final round of the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield last year. A full circle moment.”

Gemma Dryburgh, the Scottish No 1 and LPGA Tour winner, eased into the weekend with a birdie on her last hole in a 73 for a two-over total.