Irish pair three off Richie Ramsay’s Swiss lead

Former champion has one shot advantage over Jamie Donaldson at European Masters

 Richie Ramsay and his caddie ponder a shot during the second round of the Omega European Masters. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Richie Ramsay and his caddie ponder a shot during the second round of the Omega European Masters. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Shane Lowry and Gareth Maybin will go into the third round of the Omega European Masters just three shots off the lead after both moved to nine under par on Friday afternoon in the Swiss Alps.

Lowry followed up yesterday’s 66 with a five under effort of 65 at Crans-sur-Sierre, while Maybin kept pace with a round of 67 to remain in the thick of things on a crowded leaderboard.

Former champion Richie Ramsay is still the man to catch as he set an imposing clubhouse target of 12 under, with Jamie Donaldson his nearest challenger just one shot behind.

Ramsay shared the overnight lead with Italy’s Edoardo Molinari after both posted flawless rounds of 62, the Scot admitting he had thought of shooting the first 59 in European Tour history after an eagle and six birdies in 15 holes.

The 31-year-old had to settle for pars on the final three holes but was soon back among the birdies on Friday, picking up shots at the 15th and 16th - having started from the 10th - to be out in 32.

Further birdies on the par-five first, a hole he eagled on Thursday, the fifth and short seventh took 2012 champion Ramsay to 12 under par and two shots ahead of American Brooks Koepka.

Welshman Donaldson, however, reached the turn in 31 after five birdies and came home with a 64 to close the gap to one.

“It was a little bit tougher today,” Ramsay told Sky Sports 4. “I thought some of the pins were trickier on the back side and a little bit of rain made the temperature go up and down which makes clubbing difficult.

“But I stayed steady, had a good attitude again and picked up a few shots coming in which was nice, so all in all a good day’s work.”

Ramsay, who was joint fourth in the Italian Open on Sunday, added: “I have to go with the attitude that I am up there at the top so why not enjoy it? There’s nothing to lose.

“If I do that I will have a really good attitude and just go out there, try to enjoy it and pick off a few birdies.”

Donaldson’s Ryder Cup team-mate player Victor Dubuisson was four shots off the pace after recovering from a double bogey on the 12th, his third hole, to return a 67.

“I’m very, very excited to be part of this amazing team,” Dubuisson said. “It’s been very hard to qualify this year. I had to have two top 10s in the last two majors to be safe (ninth in the Open and seventh in the US PGA).

“I have a good relationship with all the players so I will just have to manage the pressure because it’s my first Ryder Cup and I know it’s not easy to play your game.

“Sometimes you want to play a little more safe and then you lose your natural game.”

Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey is also in the mix on seven under after a 68, but Pádraig Harrington dropped back to three under with a one-over-par 71 and Peter Lawrie just made cut on one under after a 70.

After opening with a 74 on Thursday, Darren Clarke improved by eight shots, showing stunning form to reach the turn in 30 with six birdies, but bogeys at 10 and 15 left him a shot short of the weekend’s action on level par.

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