Shane Lowry fires 65 at RBC Heritage but Stewart Cink steals the show

Irish golfer makes light of bad draw to move up the leaderboard in South Carolina

 Shane Lowry drives  from the 16th tee during the second round of the RBC Heritage  at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Photograph:  Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Shane Lowry drives from the 16th tee during the second round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

Sometimes, the (bad) luck of the draw – as regards tee-times – can act as a spur; and, for Shane Lowry, a near-flawless second round 65 for a midway total of seven-under-par 135 saw the Offalyman leapfrog his way up the leaderboard of the RBC Heritage tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head in South Carolina.

However, there is a lot of work to do for the field if Stewart Cink is to be caught. The 47-year-old smashed the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record with a second consecutive 63 to take a five-shot lead into the weekend at 16 under par. After a 64 earlier in the day, Corey Conners is his nearest pursuer at 11 under.

For Lowry, there was an eagle, five birdies and a lone bogey in a round where his precision iron play mostly set up his chances with stand-in caddie Gary Matthews – who normally works for Joaquin Niemann – on his bag for this event. Lowry’s regular caddie Brian “Bo” Martin had travelled home to Belfast to complete his Covid-19 vaccination but will return to work for Lowry at the Wells Fargo Championship in three weeks’ time.

“I think we definitely got the worst side of the draw,” observed Lowry, of having negotiated strong winds in his opening round and again early-on in his second round before the winds died down. “I knew I needed to go out there and shoot a decent number if I was going to put myself up there for the weekend, so it was nice to go out there and do it. I holed a few putts, played some nice golf.”

Lowry’s eagle on the 504 yards Par-5 second provided the highlight: a drive of 319 yards down the right-hand side was followed by an 8-iron approach shot of 185 yards to six feet and he rolled in the putt. The quickfire start was followed by that lone bogey on the third where he found a greenside bunker but that was to prove his only blip. “A bad bogey,” he conceded.

Thereafter, Lowry’s approach play set him up for a number of birdies: on the Par-3 fourth, his tee-shot finished just five inches from the pin for a tap-in birdie; and further birdies followed at the fifth, seventh (from two feet), ninth (seven feet) and 12th (14 feet) before he parred his way home. “It wasn’t anything outrageous, just some good golf. It was nice,” admitted Lowry.

But it is Cink who is setting the pace at Hilton Head. The 47-year-old’s mark of 16-under 126 sliced three shots off the previous best 36-hole total at the famed South Carolina course, with the old record of 129 set by Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and repeated in 2002 by Phil Mickelson.

Cink, whose victory at September’s Safeway Open was his first in 11 years, was three shots behind Conners at the beginning of the day but started well by eagling the par-five second hole before making birdies at the third and sixth. He would then go on to reel off more birdies at the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th to sit in a commanding position heading into the weekend.

On the European Tour, Spain’s Alejandro Canizares retained his position atop the Austrian Open leaderboard with a second round 70 for a midway total of seven-under-par 137, which gave him a one-stroke lead over former world number one Martin Kaymer and Irish Open champion John Catlin.

In cold conditions at the Diamond course in Atzenbrugg, Greystones’ Paul Dunne produced an encouraging second round 71 for level-par 144 – the highlight being an eagle on the fourth, his 13th – as he moved up to tied-31st while Cormac Sharvin also survived the midway cut. The Co Down player also shot a 71 for 146 but both Gavin Moynihan and Jonny Caldwell failed to make the weekend.

Collated second round scores at the RBC Heritage (USA unless stated, Par 71)

126 Stewart Cink 63 63

131 Corey Conners (Can) 67 64

132 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 68 64

133 Billy Horschel 66 67, Sung Jae Im (Kor) 68 65, Collin Morikawa 65 68, Cameron Smith (Aus) 62 71

134 Wesley Bryan 68 66, Tom Hoge 67 67, Harold Varner III 66 68

135 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 69 66, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 71 64, Shane Lowry (Irl) 70 65, Michael Thompson 68 67, Will Zalatoris 68 67

136 Lucas Glover 67 69, Charles Howell III 66 70, Sung-Hoon Kang (Kor) 68 68

137 Branden Grace (Rsa) 68 69, Brian Harman 67 70, Charley Hoffman 68 69, Dustin Johnson 70 67, Chris Kirk 70 67, Robert MacIntyre (Sco) 70 67, Ian Poulter (Eng) 69 68, Adam Schenk 68 69, Sepp Straka (Aut) 70 67, Robert Streb 68 69, Camilo Villegas (Col) 69 68, Matt Wallace (Eng) 65 72

138 Daniel Berger 67 71, Cameron Davis (Aus) 69 69, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 71 67, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 67 71, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 71 67, Matt Kuchar 70 68, Maverick McNealy 71 67, Kevin Streelman 67 71, Brian Stuard 70 68

139 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 70 69, Brice Garnett 69 70, Doug Ghim 70 69, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 73 66, Russell Henley 69 70, Harry Higgs 71 68, Tom Lewis (Eng) 72 67, Ryan Moore 70 69, Alexander Noren (Swe) 71 68, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 70 69, Chase Seiffert 71 68, Webb Simpson 71 68, Lee Westwood (Eng) 71 68, Danny Willett (Eng) 68 71

140 Sam Burns 72 68, Wyndham Clark 70 70, Scott Harrington 69 71, Andrew Landry 70 70, Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor) 67 73, Luke List 74 66, Denny McCarthy 73 67, Matthew NeSmith 68 72, Scott Piercy 70 70, Brandt Snedeker 69 71, Brendon Todd 70 70, Kevin Tway 69 71

The following players did not make the cut:

141 Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 72 69, Austin Cook 67 74, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 76 65, Jim Furyk 70 71, Danny Lee (Nzl) 68 73, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 72 69, Pat Perez 72 69, Patrick Rodgers 72 69, Hudson Swafford 70 71

142 Rafael Campos (Pur) 70 72, Patrick Cantlay 71 71, Paul Casey (Eng) 74 68, Jason Dufner 71 71, Brian Gay 68 74, Zach Johnson 72 70, Hunter Mahan 73 69, J. T. Poston 74 68, Kyle Stanley 70 72

143 Ryan Armour 72 71, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 68 75, Bill Haas 72 71, Adam Hadwin (Can) 76 67, Jim Herman 75 68, Patton Kizzire 74 69, Russell Knox (Sco) 71 72, Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 72 71, Ben Martin 74 69, Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 68 75, Scott Stallings 73 70, Nick Taylor (Can) 69 74, Vaughn Taylor 68 75

144 Tyler Duncan 71 73, Tommy Gibson 73 71, Chesson Hadley 74 70, Bo Hoag 72 72, Beau Hossler 74 70, Davis Love III 74 70, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 73 73, Troy Merritt 68 78, Chengtsung Pan (Tai) 72 72

145 Luke Donald (Eng) 73 72, Will Gordon 75 70, Kevin Kisner 72 73, Adam Long 73 72, Peter Malnati 73 72, Ted Potter Jr. 73 72

146 K. J. Choi (Kor) 76 70, Harris English 70 76, Mark Hubbard 73 73, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 71 75, William McGirt 74 72, Kevin Na 74 72, Henrik Norlander (Swe) 72 74, Martin Trainer 73 73, Richy Werenski 69 77

147 Scott Brown 73 74, Michael Gligic (Can) 76 71, Bo Van Pelt 73 74, Aaron Wise 72 75, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 75 72

148 Bryson Nimmer 80 68, Chez Reavie 75 73, Robby Shelton 73 75

150 John Augenstein 72 78, Andrew Putnam 70 80

152 Brandon Hagy 76 76, Doc Redman 81 71, Nick Watney 72 80

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