Forget any toast of ‘cin cin’ after Shane Lowry’s goal of becoming 2019 European Tour No.1 was taken aback in missing the halfway cut at the 76th Italian Open in Rome.
Lowry posted disappointing scores of 72 and 71 for a one-over par tally to fall short by a single shot in playing all four rounds on the tight and twisty Olgiata course in the Italian capital.
It is the first occasion in 11 stroke-play events since the Masters in April that Lowry has been forced to sit out the weekend rounds.
The Open Champion could manage just seven birdies over his two Italian loops but he also produced six bogeys and a fourth hole double-bogey early in Friday’s round.
Lowry never really recovered from the ‘double’ despite managing to birdie the 12th and 15th hole on both days.
The Clara golfer teed-up quietly confident of bridging the 363-point gap on the absent Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Lowry had reigned atop the Race to Dubai money list since his stunning six-shot success in last July’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush but was pushed back to second with Rahm successfully defending last week’s Spanish Open.
The duo will next tee-up in the October 31st commencing WGC – HSBC Champions in Shanghai with Lowry, in contrast to Rahm, adding the following week’s Turkish Airlines Open to his end-of-season schedule.
If all goes well, Lowry can end his greatest season late on Sunday November 24th at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai as European No. 1, and if successful, it would match the 2018 achievement of his Italian Open two-round playing partner, Francesco Molinari.
“It’s probably going to come down to the last couple of events,” Lowry said ahead of teeing-up in Rome.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all year.
“It’s very exciting that I’m there and I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to win the Race to Dubai.
“I want to keep trying to pick up some Ryder Cup points and keep challenging myself every day to shoot the best scores I can, keep playing my golf, keep doing what I’ve been doing all year and win the Race to Dubai.
“That would kind of top off what has already been an incredible year.”
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick birdied three of his closing five holes in a round of 65 to move to 10-under par and one shot clear of the Italian field.
Graeme McDowell, winner of the event in 2004 in Milan, brilliantly eagled the par-5 17th in a round of 66 to move into a share of third place on seven-under par.
“The way I played 17 was very pleasing,” said McDowell.
“I hit the tee shot in the perfect spot. The 17th is a perfect example of this golf course. If you get out of position on 17, it’s a challenging little hole, but if you hit a good drive, it’s 240 flag, five-wood and you can make birdies and eagles. Nice little second shot to the last after missing the fairway, but you know, I’m just enjoying myself out there.
“It’s a fun golf course to play. I think it plays into sort of my type of game. You’ve got to grind it around a little bit, and looking forward to being in contention this weekend.”
GMac finds himself the lone Irishman competing over the weekend with Ryder Cup Captain, Padraig Harrington (74 & 69) joining Lowry in missing out by a shot.
And Paul Dunne’s horrid season continued in posting eight bogeys in a second round 77 to miss the cut by five shots at five-over par.
Sadly, it is the 10th event in the past 12 that Dunne has missed the cut and he’s now projected to drop six places to 117th on the Race to Dubai – two places outside of retaining full Tour membership for 2020.