Irish Open: Herbert stays in front as pack bunches up

McIlroy and Lowry hoping to make up ground on moving day

  Lucas Herbert of Australia and his caddie cross a bridge on the 11th hole during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Lucas Herbert of Australia and his caddie cross a bridge on the 11th hole during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

 

Who wants it? Most? The answer of course will come in time, over the weekend, but 25-year-old Australian Lucas Herbert - in search of fresh pastures in making a new base in Florida as he sets his sights on the PGA Tour - has discovered a patch of Co Kilkenny very much to his liking as a second round 67 for 13-under-par 131 gave him an edge as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open reached the half-way stage.

In truth, with every one of the 69 players to survive the cut only too aware, and with 10 shots covering the field, the truly hard part has yet to come.

On a day when a cool breeze swirled through the tree-lined course, Herbert did what he had to do in retaining his lead. A haul of 17 birdies through two days spoke volumes for how Herbert - arriving here on the back to two top-20 finishes in the US - has managed to take a hold, securing a two stroke advantage over his nearest pursuers, Andy Sullivan and Grant Forrest.

Yet, there were others further adrift - among them Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy, each ensconced on the 139 mark - who will aim to live out that old golfing cliché of the third round being moving day.

In total, just four of the 16 Irish players who started the tournament survived the cut, with Cormac Sharvin - gently easing back into competition after suffering a toe fracture when he kicked his foot into a coffee table on reaching to get his phone - and Graeme McDowell showing great fortitude to join McIlroy and Lowry. Both Sharvin and McDowell shot 67s to rescue themselves.

“I have a miniscule fracture of the toe and I need to have a lot of inflammation, so that’s why I’m wearing (golf) trainers,” said Sharvin, who underwent an MRI after the incident and has played only infrequently of late: still, a round that featured a hat-trick of birdies at one point, from the 16th to the 18th (his seventh to ninth), demonstrated a welcome return to form at the right time.

Of the enforced layout for nearly a month, Sharvin said: “It kind of gave me time to sit down and reflect and recharge. My game wasn’t great anyway, so it was nice to be able to work on different aspects and come back and play the way I did today because it’s been a long time coming.”

Sharvin’s endeavours, including a stunning eagle on the 10th, his opening hole, where he hit an eight-iron approach to 20 feet, were largely played out in front of a smaller crowd, as - perhaps to be expected - the larger galleries were drawn to the headline acts of McIlroy, in the morning, and Lowry, in the afternoon.

McIlroy’s opening round 72 had left him cast adrift, but he made a significant upward move with a second round 67 to at least believe that further inroads can be made. “I need to get myself at least into double-digits (through 54-holes) I think to have a chance . . . there’s a bit of weather coming in as well, so we will see how it goes. I don’t think I’m right back into contention but I’m pretty close,” said the world number 10, making the interesting point that the course set-ups on the European Tour are more conducive to firing at pins.

As he observed of the pin placement on the ninth hole, for example: “You would never see a pin there in America, in the middle of the green. You can never get that visual. I’m not used to seeing that for the last couple of years and then you come back and everything is set up just a little more benign. It gives you opportunities to point-and-shoot.”

Rory McIlroy keeps a close eye on a tee shot in the second round.
Rory McIlroy keeps a close eye on a tee shot in the second round.

For his part, Lowry too showed fight. At one stage of the back nine he was living dangerously on the cutline only to break free with birdies on the 13th, 16th and 17th providing a strong finish in signing for a 69 to join McIlroy on the 139 mark.

“My game is good, it’s still pretty good,” said Lowry, who has brought his recent good form stateside back home. “Do I need to shoot 64? Probably. But I’m not really going out to try and shoot 64. At the end of the day obviously, I’d like to win and I’d like to have a good chance, but also to give myself a bit of confidence going into my week off next week (ahead of preparing for the British Open). That’s kind of what I’m looking for as well.”

Herbert, meanwhile, is the one seeking to go wire-to-wire. Easier said than done, of course; but the Aussie has the experience of Dubai to fall back on: “You know you’ve proved to yourself that you can win, you can hit shots under pressure and actually win. So I’ll be taking a lot of experience from that into the weekend and try and draw on that confidence.”

Second round scores & totals
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, Irish in bold, Par 72)

131 Lucas Herbert (Aus) 64 67 

133 Andy Sullivan 67 66, Grant Forrest 66 67 

134 Dale Whitnell 67 67 

135 Richard Bland 69 66, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 67 68, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 66, Johannes Veerman (USA) 65 70 

136 Marcus Armitage 68 68, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 68 68, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 68 68, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 69, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 67 69, Richie Ramsay 67 69, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 68 68, Gregory Havret (Fra) 67 69 

137 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 67 70, John Catlin (USA) 69 68, Andrew Johnston 67 70, Sean Crocker (USA) 67 70, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 68 69, Steven Brown 68 69 

138 Wil Besseling (Ned) 69 69, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 72 66, Jordan Smith 69 69, Jeff Winther (Den) 70 68, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 71 67, James Morrison 70 68, David Howell 71 67, Matthew Jordan 69 69, Oliver Farr 72 66, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 68 70, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 71 67 

139 Tommy Fleetwood 67 72, Rory McIlroy 72 67, Shane Lowry 70 69, Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 70, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 69, David Law 73 66, Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 71 68, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 70 69, Chris Paisley 68 71, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 71 68 

140 Aaron Rai 69 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 67 73, Vincent Norrman (Swe) 68 72, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 69 71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 72, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 68 72, Justin Walters (Rsa) 69 71, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 70, Jack Senior 72 68, Cormac Sharvin 73 67, Darius van Driel (Ned) 72 68, Connor Syme 69 71, Garrick Porteous 70 70, Si-Hwan Kim (USA) 72 68 

141 Graeme McDowell 74 67, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 69 72, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 69 72, Alexander Levy (Fra) 68 73, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 74 67, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 70 71, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 73 68, Scott Jamieson 68 73, Marc Warren 71 70, Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 69 72, David Coupland 73 68, Toby Tree 72 69 

The following players missed the cut

142 Chris Wood 70 72, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 73 69, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 69 73, Richard McEvoy 69 73, Daniel van Tonder (Rsa) 73 69, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 69 73, George Coetzee (Rsa) 71 71, Colm Moriarty 68 74, Kalle Samooja (Fin) 68 74, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 74 68, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 74 68, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 69 73, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 72 70, Robert Rock 68 74, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 70 72 

143 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 67 76, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 72 71, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 68 75, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 71 72, Ross McGowan 72 71, Romain Langasque (Fra) 71 72, Niall Kearney 71 72, Gavin Moynihan 75 68, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 68 75, Oliver Wilson 73 70, Ross Fisher 70 73, Calum Hill 72 71, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 73 70 

144 Eddie Pepperell 74 70, Paul Waring 73 71, Renato Paratore (Ita) 71 73, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 74, Julian Suri (USA) 72 72, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 72 72, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 69 75, Oliver Fisher 75 69, Robin Roussel (Fra) 74 70, Sebastian Garcia (Spa) 67 77, Benjamin Poke (Den) 71 73, Laurie Canter 72 72, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 70 74 

145 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 71 74, Jonathan Caldwell 76 69, Paul Dunne 72 73, Mark Power 73 72, Ignacio Elvira (Spa) 70 75, Ashley Chesters 76 69, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 71 74, Jamie Donaldson 69 76, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 73 72, Pedro Figueiredo (Por) 71 74 

146 Sami Valimaki (Fin) 75 71, Stephen Gallacher 73 73, Joost Luiten (Ned) 74 72, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 70 76, David Horsey 74 72, Joel Stalter (Fra) 72 74, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 73 73, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 73 73 

147 Padraig Harrington 76 71, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 70 77, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 72 75, David Drysdale 71 76, Ricardo Santos (Por) 75 72, Lars van Meijel (Ned) 76 71 

148 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 74 74, Callum Shinkwin 77 71, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 74 74, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 75 73 

149 Brandon Stone (Rsa) 78 71, Graeme Storm 77 72, Rowan Lester 73 76, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 72 77, Peter Hanson (Swe) 72 77, Jake McLeod (Aus) 77 72 150 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 78 72 

152 Haotong Li (Chn) 76 76, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 76 76, Robin Dawson 82 70, Gavin Green (Mal) 75 77 

153 Scott Hend (Aus) 75 78, Simon Thornton 77 76 

155 Neil O’Briain 78 77 

156 Andrea Pavan (Ita) 78 78, Caolan Rafferty 78 78
 

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