McIlroy and Lowry battle late on to stay in touch

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Two birdies in their last three holes helped Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry maintain their share of the lead early on the second day after their patience was tested at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The pair, who have plenty of experience of playing with each other stretching back to their amateur days representing Ireland, were level-par after 12 holes in the foursomes format and feeling shortchanged on the greens.

However, a brace of birdies on the 7th and 8th as they headed for home, lifted them to thirteen-under with a battling 70 at TPC Louisiana and they share the lead with David Lipsky and Aaron Rai.

Lowry kickstarted a strong finish for the team with a clutch par putt on the 4th after he had missed his share of putts.

“I had missed a few around the turn. I missed a pretty short one on 18 and then another one on the second. I started to get a little bit into myself, but to roll that one in was nice, and to play the last few holes the way we did was really nice too.

“I think a bit of a lesson there for myself to kind of keep going and just keep trying and keep plugging away. We did that today, and I’m pretty happy how we finished.”

Lowry was happy to capitalise on McIlroy’s length coming down the stretch.

“I knew if we got through the 6th hole at even par or maybe 1-under coming to the last few holes, I knew 7 and 8 were going to be good chances for us because I knew Rory could drive the green on 8. I knew 7 was going to play short.

“As long as I hit a good drive there, it was going to be a mid-iron for Rory. I knew we had a couple of chances coming in. We managed to take them, and that was nice.”

McIlroy was full of praise for Lowry’s short game, feeling it freed him up to be aggressive with the longer clubs, especially on the par-4 8th where Lowry played an excellent green side bunker shot to set up a birdie.

“Yeah, especially on some of the easier holes, the par-5s, a couple of shorter par-4s, to be able to get the ball up there and close to the green.

“Yeah, Shane has got a wonderful short game, and it gives me confidence going for those greens whether it be the par-4s or the par-5s that if I get it anywhere up there around the green, I’m going to have a very good look for birdie after he hits his.”

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