Shane Lowry is the best placed of the early Irish starters in round two of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Four birdies (including a 12-footer in front of the packed galleries at his final hole) saw Lowry post a two-under 72, and two-under overall.
Having struggled with his putting in round one, Rory McIlroy’s frustration with the flat stick continued in a round where his ball striking failed to cover the flaws. Poor tee shots at the penultimate hole and the last resulted in back-to-back bogies to close out for a disappointing 73.
Barring unusually low scoring from the afternoon groups, McIlroy will play the weekend at the Irish Open for just the second time in six years, but needs his putter to heat up if he is to have any hope of repeating his success of 2016.
Paul Dunne matched three birdies and three bogeys in a level par round of 72 to sit on one-over, and will face an anxious wait to see if he will be around for the weekend, with 76 players currently sitting one-over or better.
A second consecutive 73 sees Gavin Moynihan just outside the cut mark. Two bogeys in the final four holes proved costly for the Dubliner, whose frustrations look set to continue in his rookie season on tour.
Also likely to miss the cut are Paul McGinley (+3), Colm Moriarty (+4) and Darren Clarke (+7). Moriarty started bogey, double, bogey to go four-over through three, and although he responded admirably to shoot one-under on the remaining fifteen, the damage had been done early as he signed for a 75 to sit four-over.
The lead is currently held by Swede Jaokim Lagergren at -7, with former Masters champion Danny Willett a stroke further back.
Padraig Harrington starts his round three shots back, and with the ground increasing firm under the baking sunshine, anything under par will leave him in a great position going into the weekend.