Jonathan Caldwell and Niall Kearney will carry Irish hopes into the final two rounds at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha, however both will need big weekends to challenge leader Pablo Larrazábal.
Clandeboye man Caldwell made just his second cut in his last nine events as a two-under 70 in his second round got him up to three-under in total, where he is joined by Royal Dublin’s Kearney, who added a 71 to his first round 70.
Both reach the halfway stage six shots back of Larrazábal, who maintained his first round lead with a one-under 71 to reach nine-under, where he leads by one from Adrian Meronk, Wilco Nienaber and Chase Hanna.
Being in the mix for the final two rounds will be a relief for Caldwell, who has endured a tough time having battled back from injury this season and hasn’t had the luck in recent events, but three birdies and a bogey – along with eight straight pars to finish his round – have him in a share of 26th.
Kearney is at the same mark as, having started at the 10th, he noted down birdies at the 16th and 18th to reach four-under but couldn’t keep that momentum going into his back nine, and would drop back a shot with a bogey at the fourth.
Ardglass’ Sharvin missed the cut, however, as a three-over 75 in his second round saw him finish the tournament at five-over, five shots off the level-par cut-line in Doha.
Larrazábal is still the man they’re chasing, the Spaniard still well-placed to pick up a second win in three weeks, however he needed a fantastic fightback on the back nine to recover his advantage.
The 38-year-old took 40 shots to play his front nine after three bogeys and a double-bogey before the turn, but an eagle and a birdie in the first two holes of his back nine got him back on track and he restored his lead with birdies at 16 and 18.
“It was a tough start,: said Larrazabal. “I didn’t expect the drive on the first to go so far right. I started par-bogey-bogey and that wasn’t in the plans for Friday. I went bogey-double bogey on eight and nine to shoot 40 on the front nine but I said to Raul, come on, yesterday we shot six under on the back and we know that we like the back.
“We know that we’re playing good enough, we’re not playing to shoot 40, we’re playing much better than 40 on the front nine. It was one of those days where you have to keep working and believe in the way you’ve been playing the last month or so and to keep fighting. There are a lot of birdie chances on the back and I took a few.
“It is even harder mentally when you shoot 40 on the front nine and you’re two over after three. Mentally you have to recover, you have to believe in the shots you plan and the shots you hit. That’s what we did and it paid off. To shoot one under par after going four over, it proves to us that we are in a good mental spot. We are ready to make mistakes and to recover them.”
USA’s Hanna shot the second-best round of the field on day two, a six-under 66 moving him up to eight-under where he is joined by South Africa’s Nienaber and Poland’s Meronk who signed for rounds of 68 and 70 respectively.