Shane Lowry stays in the hunt as fiery Ballyliffin bares teeth

Rory McIlroy endured another frustrating day on the greens as Fox and Pavon lead

Shane Lowry of Ireland fist pumps after making a birdie on the ninth green during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Shane Lowry of Ireland fist pumps after making a birdie on the ninth green during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

Imagine if the wind were to really howl in off the Atlantic? Imagine. For, even with nothing more than a zephyr caressing the grasses on this Glashedy Links throughout the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, there were many tortured souls who failed to navigate a route. Rafa Cabrera Bello. Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Matthew Fitzpatrick. And Pádraig Harrington. All gone.

Harrington’s plight was perhaps the harshest of all as great expectations were dashed by a series of events – including a lost ball on the Par 5 13th, which was found three seconds after the permitted five minutes search time ran its course, and a sloppy finishing double-bogey – that saw him post a score of 78, exactly 10 shots worse than the 68 he took in the opening round, to miss the cut by one.

On a day of beautifully sunny weather which again showcased the magnificent links, a global trio – New Zelander Ryan Fox, Frenchman Matthieu Pavon and South African Erik Van Rooyen – reached the midpoint of this €6 million tournament with a share of lead on eight-under-par 136, a shot ahead of Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren. All four are ranked outside the top-100 in the world, with Fox (124th) the best of them.

Matthieu Pavon tees off on the 7th hole. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Matthieu Pavon tees off on the 7th hole. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Van Rooyen shot a course record 65 in his second round, finishing birdie-birdie, but the Springbok – a winner on the Challenge Tour last season and also on the Sunshine Tour – is chasing a first ever win on the European Tour.

Jon Rahm, the defending champion, was one of those who rolled up his sleeves. The Spaniard’s opening 74 had put him in jeopardy of missing the cut but he salvaged matters superbly with a second round 69 for 143 that kept his hopes of retaining the title alive.

When the cut fell on 145, just five Irish players found themselves in the mix: Shane Lowry and Simon Thornton, who booked his place in the field when winning the new qualifying tournament held at Rosapenna, were in tied-20th on 142, six shots adrift of the leading trio; Rory McIlroy defied an unruly putter to head into the weekend on 143 to play catch-up, while Graeme McDowell (144) and Paul Dunne (145) battled gamely to at least have an opportunity to make upward moves.

Oh, the golfing gods can be cruel. Edoardo Molinari had the high of executing a hole-in-one on the 14th, yet all of that feel-good factor evaporated on the 18th when he ran up a double-bogey six . . . . to miss the cut by one. Perhaps only Harrington, who had also finished with a double-bogey there, could empathise. Perhaps.

“Obviously disappointing, a couple of three putts coming home,” said Harrington, although the real damage was done by that lost ball on the 13th and compounded by another double-bogey on the 18th, where his tee shot found rough and his attempted recovery ploughed into heavier rough on a sand hill in front. Finding the green in three, his fate was sealed by a three-putt.

So it was that Lowry – who remained patient and stuck to his game plan to add a 70 to his opening 72 for a 142 midway total – started to reassess his position.

“I’ve given myself a little chance going into the weekend, so just really looking forward to it. Hopefully I can get out and make some birdies. It’s quite a frustrating golf course to play because you probably feel like you should be doing better than you are most of the time. it’s just hard to get the ball close to the pins,” said Lowry.

McIlroy salutes the crowd after finishing his round on the 9th. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
McIlroy salutes the crowd after finishing his round on the 9th. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

McIlroy, too, entertained ambitions – despite struggling with his putting – of making a charge. “I can only concentrate on me and control what I do. If I shoot two 68s on the weekend, I don’t think I would be too far away. Double-digits under par is a great target,” said McIlroy, who doesn’t envisage changing his course strategy.

He explained: “I like to hit driver as much as I possibly can, but sometimes it is just not worth it. And, out here, with the angles off tees and the doglegs, it’s better to hit an iron in the fairway and at least have some control of your golf ball going in with your second shot.”

Indeed, any of the players who survived the cut will seek to make upward movement in the final 36-holes on a course – fiery fairways and greens – that has asked tough questions in the examination to date. With no forecast of rain, and greens set to get ever-firmer, the challenge will be to get approach shots to stay on the putting surfaces. Patience will be important.

Collated second round scores in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by The Rory Foundation, Ballyliffin GC, Ireland (Britain unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72)

136 Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 68, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 67 69, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 65

137 Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 69 68

138 Sam Horsfield 69 69, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 70 68, Danny Willett 68 70

139 Lee Westwood 68 71

140 Peter Uihlein (USA) 70 70, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 72 68, Russell Knox 71 69

141 Chris Wood 70 71, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 71 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 72 69, Matthew Nixon 72 69, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 70 71, Ashley Chesters 68 73, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 69 72, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 71 70

142 Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 70 72, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 69 73, Paul Waring 71 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 72 70, George Coetzee (Rsa) 71 71, Gonzalo Fernandez, Castano (Spa) 71 71, Renato Paratore (Ita) 75 67, Oliver Fisher 74 68, Shane Lowry (Irl)72 70, Simon Thornton (Irl) 72 70

143 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 73, Scott Jamieson 69 74, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 73 70, Aaron Rai 72 71, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 72 71, Julian Suri (USA) 76 67, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 70 73, Jon Rahm (Spa) 74 69, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 70 73, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 74, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 74, David Horsey 74 69, Matthew Southgate 72 71, Jin-ho Choi (Kor) 69 74, James Morrison 73 70, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 69 74, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 75 68, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 72 71

144 Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 73 71, Richie Ramsay 70 74, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 71 73, Graeme McDowell 71 73 (NIrl), Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 73 71, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 74 70, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 72 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 72 72, Peter Hanson (Swe) 71 73, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 68 76, Marc Warren 70 74, Romain Wattel (Fra) 72 72

Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 74 70, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 73 71, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 71 73

145 Charlie Ford 73 72, Daniel Brooks 74 71, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 76 69, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 74 71, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 74 71, Robert Rock 68 77, David Drysdale 76 69, Andy Sullivan 73 72, Adam Bland (Aus) 76 69, Andres Romero (Arg) 70 75, Paul Dunne (Irl) 73 72, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 72 73, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 73 72, Bradley Dredge 72 73

The following players missed the cut:

146 Steven Brown 74 72, Richard Bland 74 72, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 75 71, Callum Shinkwin 75 71, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 74 72, Chris Paisley 72 74, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) 71 75, Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 72 74, Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 73 73, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 71 75, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 73 73, Eddie Pepperell 76 70, Ruaidhrí McGee (Irl) 72 74, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 76 70, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 68 78

147 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 77 70, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 75 72, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa) 72 75, Scott Hend (Aus) 78 69, Jeff Winther (Den) 73 74, Rak hyun Cho (Kor) 74 73, Gavin Green (My) 73 74, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 76 71, Cormac Sharvin (NIrl) 73 74, Matthew Baldwin 72 75, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 71 76, Lee Slattery 73 74, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 73 74, Ryan Evans 70 77, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 74 73, Paul McGinley (Irl) 73 74, Mark Foster 77 70, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 80 67

148 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 75 73, Colm Moriarty (Irl) 73 75, S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind) 73 75, David Howell 73 75, Clement Sordet (Fra) 74 74, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 74 74, Austin Connelly (Can) 75 73, Jordan Smith 73 75

149 Nico Geyger (Chi) 75 74, Christofer Blomstrand (Swe) 77 72, Bradley Neil 79 70, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 75 74, Haotong Li (Chn) 73 76, Brett Rumford (Aus) 78 71, Sebastien Gros (Fra) 75 74, David Lipsky (USA) 73 76, Connor Syme 72 77, Thomas Detry (Bel) 74 75, Gregory Havret (Fra) 76 73, Oliver Farr 77 72

150 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 73 77, Marcel Siem (Ger) 73 77, Daniel Im (USA) 80 70, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 72 78, Sam Brazel (Aus) 77 73

151 Cian McNamara (Irl) 76 75, Darren Clarke (Irl) 75 76

152 Laurie Canter 75 77, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 75 77, Matthew Fitzpatrick 77 75, Alexander Levy (Fra) 80 72, Neil O’Briain (NIrl) 78 74

153 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 76 77, Matt Wallace 80 73

154 Scott Fernandez (Spa) 75 79

155 Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 77 78, Lasse Jensen (Den) 79 76, Justin Walters (Rsa) 75 80, Pedro Oriol (Spa) 78 77

156 Stephen Gallacher 78 78, Soomin Lee (Kor) 78 78

158 Jason Norris (Aus) 82 76

159 Chase Koepka (USA) 78 81

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