Colm Moriarty looks to have booked his place in the last two rounds at the Irish Open but Padraig Harrington will need scoring to go his way to join him at Galgorm Castle.
Glasson professional Moriarty rose to the challenge of some wild conditions in Northern Ireland on Friday to return a rare under par effort in round two – a superb one-under par 69.
The experienced PGA professional, who finished runner-up at this year’s Irish PGA Championship at Roganstown, fired five birdies, including four in an outward half of 31 and clung on on the back nine to reach a four-over par 36-hole tally.
“It was very difficult, especially the way the course is set up with the rough,” said Moriarty.
“Yesterday was difficult but today was definitely worse. I played really well on the front nine, three under, and I just hit a bad shot off the tee on 11 and made double but I hung in there well. There’s a lot of really tough holes coming in so all-in-all, one under was a pretty good score.”
One-under was in fact a great score, anything worse and the 41-year old would be worried about his place in the final 36-hole field. However, after doing the bulk of his work on the front nine, Moriarty dug deep over a difficult closing stretch, overcoming some nerves on 18 to par the last and enjoy a warm lunch in the clubhouse after.
“I did [feel it] – it’s a tough tee-shot on 18 and it had just started to rain as well,” he laughed.
“I hit a great tee shot and a really good layup and I even thought I hit a great third, just came up a wee bit short so I just said I’d leave myself a little three-foot tester down the hill to finish!”
With mission one complete, Moriarty can now take the handbrake off somewhat believing there’s a low one in him ahead of moving day at Galgorm.
“Definitely, with the start I had today, three-under through nine, and I’d birdied a couple of the tougher holes on the front nine. I hit two good shots on 10, only had 35 yards to the pin and didn’t make birdie and obviously lost a bit of momentum on 11 but I could’ve easily shot a better score today so it is encouraging for the weekend,” he added.
Whether or not three-time Major champion Harrington will be joining him in the draw is another question altogether after the Dubliner bogeyed the last to fall to six-over par at the halfway mark.
Currently projected to be one outside the cut-mark of plus-five, Harrington had brilliantly birdied the penultimate hole before lipping out for his par on the par-5 18th.
“I’ll sit and watch it and see if six-over makes it but it’s disappointing – I knew five would be good enough,” Harrington reflected of his five-over par round of 75 in round two.
“Everything was going really well and then I three-putted the eighth from five feet and after that, I got caught by the swirling wind a few times and chipped poorly – that would normally be my strength but yeah, disappointing. Also disappointing for the putt to horseshoe out the way it did on the last.”
Whether or not he makes hit, Harrington can be heartened that even after a six-month competitive absence, his game’s not all that far away should he reappear for next week’s Scottish Open and the following week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
“Physical side of it was good and strong but short game wise – I was surprised by how bad it was but when you’re not competitive… this is tournament play, there’s no substitute for it.
“But I’m not going to get down on it. It’s one week out – I’ve quite enjoyed playing – I saw some good stuff in my game. I know exactly what I need to do so that’s a decent place to be.”
Definitely headed home were Paul Dunne at plus-nine after rounds of 75 and 74, Gavin Moyinhan and amateur Tom McKibbin both at 11-over par and Cormac Sharvin at the foot of the board at 17-over par.
A 90 minute frost delay on Friday is expected to see round two carry over into Saturday morning.
Full scoring HERE