England's Georgia Hall hoped Carnoustie would justify its fearsome reputation after shooting a second round of 69 in benign conditions on Friday to share the halfway lead in the Women's British Open.
The winner at Royal Lytham and St Annes three years ago, Hall was on seven under par alongside America's Mina Harigae.
They lead by one from Kim Sei-young (71) and Lizette Salas (69).
"I am very happy with my position," said Hall, whose round featured six birdies.
"I got off to a great start and the only hiccup was a double bogey at the 15th.
"But it is easy to run up a big figure over this course and I just had to forget it. I was delighted to make par over the difficult, final three holes."
With little more than a breeze and plenty of sun, Carnoustie has yet to live up to its billing as one of the world's toughest courses.
But that could change if the harsh weather forecast for the North Sea coast of Scotland this weekend does indeed hit the links.
"I think it makes it more interesting for everyone if it's windy," said the 25-year-old Hall. "It's a truer test and I am excited at the thought of playing in rougher conditions.
"Some of the other players might not be so used to tough, links weather but I know I can do it. I also know that I am more experienced than I was in 2018."
Harigae had seven birdies - including one at the last - in a round of 67.
At the age of 31, she has won seven titles on minor Tours but is still awaiting a first LPGA victory.
Winning at Carnoustie would also seal her dream of being selected for the US team to play Europe in the Solheim Cup.
"I've had a very good 12 months (seven top ten finishes) and I am playing the best of my career," Harigae said.
"I am hoping for the Solheim - and I am thrilled with shooting such a good score over a great course."
Nelly Korda, the world No 1 and joint leader on 67 after the first round, never hit full throttle, but the Olympic champion was still well placed on four under after a 73.
'Punch of reality'
"The putts weren't dropping this afternoon," said the 23-year-old American. "Everyone keeps talking about how I'm playing so well, but I'm going to shoot bad scores. So just a little punch of reality that I'm human."
Among the closest chasers is Lexi Thompson, and a win for the American would help compensate for her blow-out at this year's US Open.
The 26-year-old shot a 70 on Friday to be two off the lead at five under par - and she was helped by the advice of local caddie Paul Drummond, whom Thompson employed after her regular bag-handler fell ill in the heat of the Tokyo Olympics.
"He's been amazing," said Thompson of Drummond. "He knows how the ball will bounce before the greens and then can read every putt. I totally trust him."
Thompson, whose lone major win came in the 2014 ANA Inspiration, led by five shots with 10 holes to play at the US Open in June only to suffer a nightmare collapse and finish one behind eventual winner Yuka Saso.
"But I have not let if affect me and I don't think I have anything to prove," Thompson insisted.
Meanwhile, it was end of the road for defending champion Sophia Popov.
The German, a shock winner at Royal Troon last year, double-bogeyed the 18th for a 75 and missed the cut by two shots on three over par.
Leading scores after the second round of the Women's British Open at Carnoustie on Friday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):
137 - Georgia Hall 68-69, Mina Harigae (USA) 70-67
138 - Lizette Salas (USA) 69-69, Kim Sei-young (KOR) 67-71
139 - Yuka Saso (PHI) 68-71, Leona Maguire 72-67, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DEN) 70-69, Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 72-67, Yealimi Noh (USA) 70-69, Lexi Thompson (USA) 69-70
140 - Hinako Shibuno (JPN) 70-70, Min-Jee Lee (AUS) 71-69, Brooke Henderson (CAN) 71 69, Nelly Korda (USA) 67-73, Madelene Sagstroem (SWE) 67-73
141 - Sanna Nuutinen (FIN) 70-71, Jennifer Coleman (USA) 72-69, Ji Eun-hee (KOR) 72-69, Matilda Castren (FIN) 73-68, Louise Duncan 68-73
142 - Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) 71-71, Jenny Shin (KOR) 71-71, Gerina Piller (USA) 72-70, Marina Alex (USA) 72-70, Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 70-72, Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 71-71, Paula Reto (RSA) 72-70
143 - Lydia Ko (NZL) 72-71
144 - Laura Davies 74-70
145 - Park In-bee (KOR) 70-75
147 - Sophia Popov (GER) 72-75