Lowry chasing big weekend after Friday’s battle at Mount Juliet

John Craven

Shane Lowry (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

John Craven

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Shane Lowry was delighted to come out on the right side of a real struggle on day two of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open as three birdies in his closing six holes turned his fortunes around at Mount Juliet.

The Open Champion carded a three-under par round of 69 for a five-under 36-hole tally, beating the cut-mark by two shots in the end, not that it ever felt that comfortable for the Clara favourite.

“It’s no fun at all playing golf on the cut mark, especially in your home tournament where you’re trying so desperately hard to do well, and obviously a lot of people are supporting me so you’re trying to play good golf for them as well as myself,” Lowry said, having got to two-under through five holes before giving both shots back in a mid-round lull before things picked up again from 13.

“It was a bit of a struggle today. I got off to a great start and let it slip in the middle of the round. 2-under through four out here, you’re really off and running because you’ve got three par 5s in the next six holes. Then I played those next six holes in 2-over. It was tough but I battled well and showed some resilience and some good, hard, grinding out there. So I’m pretty proud of myself the way I played. To finish like that was pretty good.”

It leaves Lowry a full eight shots back of flying Aussie Lucas Herbert who added a 67 to his opening 64 to head the field by two at 13-under with Andy Sullivan and Grant Forrest sharing second. However, far from discouraged by the eight-shot deficit, Lowry is just pleased to have booked his place in the weekend field in Kilkenny, knowing he’ll have the full support of the limited attendance as he looks to launch a weekend attack on the leaders.

“I’d give everything to be up there on Sunday afternoon, home crowd cheering me on,” Lowry admitted. “I’ve had that a couple times over my career, so I’m very lucky that’s happened. I just want to experience it again.

“It’s amazing. Like obviously since winning in Portrush, I haven’t got to play in front of an Irish crowd, and obviously there’s not as many here as we would have liked but walking down 18 and walking off the green, I had some goosebumps and it’s pretty cool.

“It’s nice, and a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, and just to be here playing golf with watching, this is probably one of the biggest sporting events since Covid started in Ireland, so it’s nice that it’s golf. Hopefully I can go out tomorrow — I think there’s a bad weather forecast, give it a bit of a charge and give myself a chance on Sunday.”

A five-under par, Lowry sits in a share of 34th alongside Rory McIlroy who turned in a much-improved five-birdie, no-bogey 67 to move up the board. Ardglass professional Cormac Sharvin also impressed on Friday, getting the ball rolling with an opening hole eagle before signing for a five-under 67 of his own that catapulted the 28-year old 64 places up the leaderboard and into a tie for 44th.

Graeme McDowell also joined the 67 club on Friday, crediting a change of putter for a reversal in fortunes that saw him produce a bogey-free effort good enough to advance on the number at three-under par.

That quartet will carry home hopes into the weekend at Mount Juliet after Glasson’s Colm Moriarty fell one shot shy of the required mark after a second round 74. Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney also came close at one-under, the same score as Gavin Moynihan who can take heart from a closing 68.

Kilkenny amateur Mark Power put in another strong account of himself, missing out on the weekend rounds at one-over par but he could be consoled by good company, beside Jonathan Caldwell and Paul Dunne who also missed out.

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