Lowry bounces back with stunning 66 in Valencia as Uihlein leads

Seven birdies help Irish golfer get back to level par

Shane Lowry in action at the Spanish Open at  Parador de El Saler  in Valencia. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Shane Lowry in action at the Spanish Open at Parador de El Saler in Valencia. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Shane Lowry bounced back in spectacular fashion in the second round of the Spanish Open in Valencia as a birdie-doused 66 saw him return to level par at El Saler, six shots back from the halfway leader Peter Uihlein of the United States .

The Offaly golfer had carded seven bogeys in his opening 78, but it was seven birdies this morning as he equalled the best round of the week so far.

Opening with back-to-back gains after starting at the 10th hole, Lowry also birdied the 13th and the 16th to turn in 32. A bogey on the long third, his only one of the round, was followed by three more birdies in his final five holes.

Chile’s Felipe Aguilar had carded 17 pars and just one birdie to finish on five under par and was briefly joined at the top of the leaderboard by France’s Raphael Jacquelin and Swede Rikard Karlberg.

But Uihlein ended the day out in front with a birdie on his final hole for a 68 to finish the day six under par, moving the joint leaders down into a three-way share of second place.

Jacquelin began the day five shots off the lead shared by Aguilar, France’s Gary Stal and Morten Madsen, but equalled the lowest round of the day with a 66 containing seven birdies and just one bogey on the 17th.

Karlberg looked like taking the lead into the weekend when he raced to the turn in 31 with an eagle and three birdies in his first four holes before picking up further shots on the 11th and 14th.

But the tough closing stretch claimed another victim when he bogeyed the 17th and 18th and had to settle for a 67.

“I played good,” Aguilar, who has won more than 30 tournaments in his native Chile but just one, the 2008 Indonesia Open, on the European Tour, told European Tour Radio.

“I had a bogey-free round with only one birdie and you could think it was a boring round, but it was quite exciting. I had a couple of bad shots and had to chip out and get up and down.

“Patience was key. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I am quite comfortable playing right now. It’s a long way to go and the weekend usually gets tougher. The greens are getting very hard.”

Scottish pair Marc Warren and Craig Lee, England’s Eddie Pepperell and Denmark’s Madsen are a shot off the lead on four under, with former Ryder Cup player David Howell among those a stroke further back.

Warren, a World Cup winner alongside Colin Montgomerie in 2007 but without a tour win since earlier that season, carded his second consecutive 70 and told reporters: “This golf course is such a good course that every shot asks a question. I feel I answered most of those yesterday and I carried on again today.

“You really have to be patient, two yards left or right make a big difference and the flag on 18 was as tough as it gets.”

Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, 20th in the Masters at Augusta on Sunday, is three off the lead after a 73, while world number 13 Sergio Garcia is only six off the pace on one over after matching his compatriot’s score.

“It was windy from the beginning so it was tricky,” said Fernandez-Castano, who carded a 69 on Thursday. “I didn’t play as good as I did yesterday, I hit a couple of loose shots that cost me but overall I have a chance. I need a good weekend but I am still in the tournament.

“It’s just what is happening to me the last few tournaments, a great start and then I seem to be falling apart throughout the week. Hopefully I can get my act together and play well on the weekend. I’m going to need to play my best to have a chance on Sunday.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez, playing his 599th tour event on his return to action after breaking his leg skiing in December, could only add a 74 to his opening 76 to miss the cut, while defending champion Francesco Molinari – suffering from a back injury — also bowed out after finishing seven over.

David Higgins followed up his first round 69 with a disappointing 75 to skip back to level par and. Gareth Maybin (71) and Peter Lawrie (74) are one shot further back both face an anxious wait this afternoon after finishing right on the present cut markbut survived the cut.

Damien McGrane, on three over after a 72, and Michael Hoey on seven over after a 76 missed the cut, as did Northern Ireland amateur Reece Whitson who carded a 77.