Shane Lowry and Simon Thornton emerged to share the leading Irish honours heading into the weekend of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin.
Lowry regrouped after a bitterly disappointing opening 72 when he bogeyed two of his closing four holes on Thursday for the Offlay star to reverse that with two birdies over the last six holes of his inward nine in a score of 70 for a level par tally.
He and Thornton, who completed his round near 7.30pm also with a 70, share 20th place at two-under par are sitting just six strokes from the leading trio of Kiwi Ryan Fox (69), Frenchman Mattieu Pavon (68) and South African Erik Van Rooyen (65)
Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren (68), and winner of this year’s Sicilian Open, is in forurth place at seven-under par.
“I’m happy with how I finished today,” Lowry said.
“I finished very badly yesterday so I was conscious of that and finished strong today. A lot happier today than I was yesterday. I enjoyed it out there today.
“It’s a fantastic golf course. It tests all part of your game, and yeah, I felt like I played okay. I felt like over two rounds, 2-under, I could be a couple better but I’m happy with that.”
Thornton, out in the fourth last group of the day, posted 12 straight pars finally before his delight in completing the last six in two-under.
It is the 41-year old’s first regular Tour event since contesting last year’s Irish Open.
Also making the cut was defending champ, Jon Rahm with scores of 73 and 69 to be tied with Rory McIlroy at one-over but with McIlroy walking from the course continuing to be frustrated in signing for a 73.
Graeme McDowell also carded a 73 to drop back to level par but unlike last Friday’s French Open horror second round of a 77 that included a closing hole ‘8’, he played his inward nine in level par.
Paul Dunne also made into the weekend rounds and for eight of 11 European Tour events this year
The Greystones golfer produced three birdies and just as many bogeys to remain at one-over.
Sadly, Padraig Harrington nose-dived out of the event shooting a shock second round 78 and 10 strokes more than his opening score.
The 2007 Irish Open winner was struggling from the outset with three outward nine bogeys but the ‘weekend off’ writing was on the wall when he doubled the 13th and then bogeyed the 14th.
Harrington did birdie 16 and 17th before also a double bogey at the last.
Also missing the level par cut was Gavin Moynihan (73, 73), Cormac Sharvin (73, 74), Paul McGinley (73, 74), Colm Moriarty (73, 75), Darren Clarke (75, 76) and Neil O’Briain.