Shane Lowry battles back to stay in the mix at Honda Classic

Offaly man two off the early clubhouse lead held by Donald, Westwood and Poston

  Shane Lowry   plays a shot from a bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the Honda Classic on Friday. Photograph:  Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Shane Lowry plays a shot from a bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the Honda Classic on Friday. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

True champions don’t buckle, and Shane Lowry overcame a terrible start to his second round of the Honda Classic – bogeying three of his opening three holes – to dig deep and sign off with a birdie on his closing hole for back-to-back 69s, putting him right into the mix on two-under-par 138 at the midpoint of the PGA Tour event at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Lowry sits three off the lead held by Brendan Steele after the American added a 67 to his opening round 68.

Former world number one Luke Donald, without a win on tour since 2012 and currently 456th in those rankings, rekindled some of his former glories to fire a 66 to join his fellow-Englishman Lee Westwood and American JT Poston in a tie for second at four under.

Lowry’s up-and-down round of 69 featured an eagle, four birdies and five bogeys but he finished in style with a wonderful approach to eight feet on the ninth, his finishing hole, to remain very much in the mix heading into the weekend.

Tough start

It proved to be a tough start for the British Open champion, who – starting on the 10th – hit a number of loose approach shots: he missed the green with his approach to the 10th and failed to get up-and-down from greenside rough; was punished for an approach into a greenside bunker on the 12th and was threading water after a three-putt bogey on the 13th.

Lowry finally got his round going with a 20 footer for birdie on the 14th and made it back-to-back birdies on the Par 3 15th where he rolled in an eight-footer. Then, on the Par 5 18th, Lowry hit a stunning approach from 240 yards to 20 feet and rolled in the eagle putt to turn in 34.

His back nine saw him make a further upward move with a birdie on the Par 5 third before he gave back shots on the fifth and eighth holes where he missed the greens with approach shots, only to bring a smile back to his face again with a fine birdie finish on the ninth.

Adventurous

Donald’s round was also an adventurous one. Three over on his card through five holes, Donald proceeded to reel off eight birdies on his final 13 holes to propel himself into contention. Troubled by a back injury in recent seasons, Donald – fit again – remarked: “A back injury at 40 years old, you can lose a bit of momentum. It takes time to get that back. Obviously, confidence breeds confidence and you need to keep plugging away and get yourself into position to really help for future times you’re in position. It’s going to be nice to be up there this weekend and hopefully play well.”

Brooks Koepka, who relinquished the world number one spot to Rory McIlroy earlier this month, showed further evidence of rust in his comeback from knee surgery and missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 for eight-over 148 to miss the cut.

Pádraig Harrington was also among those who won’t play this weekend after his second round 74 left him at six over.

McIlroy, meanwhile, has confirmed he will definitely play in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet on May 28th-31st. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a bit different going back for a May date as opposed to July and at a parkland course at Mount Juliet. I’ve never played the course but have got good memories, it was the first time I ever watched Tiger Woods play in person,” said McIlroy, referencing Woods’s win on the course in the American Express Championship in 2002.

Collated second round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour The Honda Classic, PGA National (Champion), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, United States of America (USA unless stated, par 70):

135 Brendan Steele 68 67

136 JT Poston 67 69, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 66, Lee Westwood (Eng) 67 69

137 Nick Watney 71 66, Sepp Straka (Aut) 70 67, Gary Woodland 70 67, Cameron Davis (Aus) 70 67

138 Richy Werenski 70 68, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 69 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 69, Sungjae Im (Kor) 72 66, Jamie Lovemark 69 69

139 Robby Shelton 70 69, Hudson Swafford 70 69, Harold Varner III 69 70, Kevin Streelman 69 70, Daniel Berger 69 70, Maverick McNealy 70 69, Russell Henley 70 69, Adam Long 71 68, Cameron Tringale 67 72

140 Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 71 69, Mark Hubbard 69 71, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor) 69 71, Harris English 66 74, Talor Gooch 71 69, Sam Burns 69 71, Harry Higgs 72 68, Ian Poulter (Eng) 70 70, Patrick Rodgers 69 71, Billy Horschel 73 67

141 Kurt Kitayama 70 71, Aaron Wise 71 70, Beau Hossler 70 71, Brandon Hagy 70 71, Tom Lewis (Eng) 66 75, Fabian Gomez (Arg) 72 69, Grayson Murray 73 68, Jimmy Walker 72 69, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 70 71, Brice Garnett 72 69

142 Bud Cauley 70 72, Matthew Wolff 72 70, Brian Stuard 67 75, Vaughn Taylor 71 71, Zach Johnson 67 75, Scott Stallings 70 72, Sam Ryder 71 71, Jason Dufner 70 72, Austin Cook 72 70, Ryan Palmer 70 72, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 76 66, Hayden Buckley 72 70, Stewart Cink 73 69, Wyndham Clark 68 74, Patton Kizzire 70 72

143 Kramer Hickok 73 70, Matthew NeSmith 71 72, Matt Jones (Aus) 70 73, Christopher Baker 70 73, Brian Harman 71 72, Cameron Percy (Aus) 69 74, Mark Anderson 71 72, Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 73, Michael Thompson 70 73, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 71 72, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 74 69

The following players did not make the cut:

144 Luke List 73 71, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 73 71, Matt Wallace (Eng) 71 73, Sebastian Cappelen (Den) 72 72, Doc Redman 68 76, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 73 71, Ted Potter, Jr. 72 72, Sean O’Hair 73 71, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 72, John Huh 72 72, Rickie Fowler 76 68, Tyler Duncan 72 72, Jim Herman 74 70

145 Adam Schenk 75 70, Chris Kirk 72 73, Lucas Glover 72 73, Daniel Wetterich (a) 72 73, David Hearn (Can) 74 71, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 77 68, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 74 71, Martin Trainer 72 73, Russell Knox (Sco) 73 72, Josh Teater 71 74, D.J. Trahan 74 71

146 Andrew McCain 72 74, Keegan Bradley 70 76, Chase Seiffert 74 72, Denny McCarthy 73 73, Rob Oppenheim 71 75, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 73 73, Justin Rose (Eng) 72 74, Jim Furyk 78 68, Kevin Tway 72 74, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 72 74

147 Scott Brown 75 72, Kyle Stanley 73 74, Noh Seung-Yul (Kor) 75 72, Keith Mitchell 75 72, Bol Hoag 75 72, Tom Hoge 72 75

148 Chris Stroud 72 76, Vincent Whaley 75 73, Roger Sloan (Can) 74 74, Michael Gligic (Can) 72 76, Tyler McCumber 73 75, Brooks Koepka 74 74, Scott Harrington 74 74, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 74 74, Corey Conners (Can) 73 75

149 Vijay Singh (Fij) 76 73, Brian Gay 74 75, Ryan Armour 74 75, Chesson Hadley 71 78, Joseph Bramlett 77 72, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 74 75

150 Peter Malnati 74 76, Wes Roach 75 75, Arjun Atwal (Ind) 75 75, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 77 73, Zac Blair 76 74, Doug Ghim 74 76, Tim Wilkinson (Nzl) 69 81

151 Hank Lebioda 73 78, Robert Streb 77 74

152 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 74 78, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 75 77, Bol Van Pelt 77 75, Camilo Villegas (Col) 75 77

153 Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) 76 77

154 Davis Love III 75 79

155 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 80 75, Henrik Norlander (Swe) 75 80, Justin Bertsch 76 79

159 Matt Every 74 85

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