McIlroy and leading Irish lights bow out at Carton House
Uihlein and Rock lead the Irish Open, with Shane Lowry two shots adrift at his home course
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland bends his driver after his tee shot on the 11th during the second round of the Irish Open at Carton House. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal during day two of the Irish Open at Carton House. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell, ‘to lose one major winner might be regarded as misfortune but to lose four is downright careless.’ Rory McIloy (+2), Graeme McDowell (+1), Padraig Harrington (+1) and Darren Clarke (+6) failed to make the halfway cut mark; the Irish Open at Carton House will be considerably poorer for their absence.
It’s a bumper weekend in sport and the counter-attractions in rugby, Gaelic football, hurling, tennis and racing are considerable. The European Tour is fortunate that Shane Lowry demonstrated his mettle in fighting back from a couple of early bogeys to eventually sign for a70 and a seven under total, the highlight of which was a brace of birdies on 17 and 18.
The Offaly footballers are in action against Tyrone tomorrow in the qualifiers but if Lowry can maintain some scoring momentum tomorrow then the Faithful county might decamp to Carton House on the Sunday. He trails the joint leaders American Peter Uihlein (23) and a runner-up at the 2009 Irish Open - Lowry, an amateur, beat him in a play-off - Robert Rock by two shots. Lowry shares third place with two others, one of whom is first-round leader Oscar Floren.
It’d be interesting to note the odds on Rock and Lowry renewing a Sunday duel, this time on the fairways of the Montgomerie course.
There’ll be plenty of others who’ll dispute those claims, including the gifted Uihlein, a former amateur world number one, who won his first tour event in Madeira in May.
Harrington’s round was one of enduring frustration, missing three early chances for birdies inside 15 feet and then on the 14th, his fifth hole, three puting to drop a first shot that soon became two when he caught a poor lie in a greenside bunker on the 16th and failed to get up and down. A dull blade gathers no birdies.
“It was a tough day,” he admitted. “I started okay, but missed a few chances for birdie early on and then I had a horrible three putt on my fifth hole (14th) and that set me back for the rest of the day. I was always a bit on the back foot. When I did make a birdie, I dropped that shot quickly enough.
“My short game wasn’t good; wedges weren’t good, didn’t hole the putts. It always meant that I was, you know, just watching what cut line all day and that never gave me any freedom to go forward.”
McDowell, too, was flummoxed, after hitting a number of good putts that pulled up inches short in the centre of the cup. He struggled with the pace of the greens running 11 on the stimpmeter.
“I putted badly today,” he said. “I couldn’t get the speed of the greens. They were very slow, and I think in anticipation of this wind forecast they really didn’t get them all that speedy today. I left a lot of putts short.”
Clarke could only manage a brace of 75s, while McIlroy struggled for an equilibrium to his game, managing five birdies but crucially as many bogeys. He missed too many fairways and greens in regulation. He will stay on site over the weekend to work on his game and confirmed that he will not play another tournament ahead of next month’s British Open at Muirfield.
“It’s disappointing as I feel I played okay today but it’s not nice not to be competing. But there were a few good things out there. I just need to work on my game,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
There’s no doubt that the strengthening wind and the occasional rain showers made the afternoon tee times the harsher draw. Northern Ireland duo Alan Dunbar and Damien Mooney both finished on two under, the latter throwing in a hole-in-one on the par three seventh; his six iron tee shot finding the bottom of the cup. English-born Irishman Simon Thornton, a first time tour winner in St Omer a couple of weeks ago, grafted away to craft a decent score in the conditions, also finishing on two under.
Gareth Shaw signed for a superb 68 that moved him to three under, while Peter Lawrie (71) and Michael Hoey (76) are a shot further back on one under.