INPHO Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry.
second round
McIlroy and Lowry recover to stand at five-under after Irish Open second round
Australian Lucas Herbert is the leader on -13 at Mount Juliet.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 2nd 2021, 6:36 PM

A DAY AFTER describing his game as being stuck in neutral, Rory McIlroy moved through the gears to get back into contention in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

McIlroy added a second round of 67 to his opening 72 at Mount Juliet for a halfway total of five-under par, eight shots off the lead held by Australian Lucas Herbert.

The other big home favourite joined McIlroy on five-under after Shane Lowry finished strongly for a 69 today to add to yesterday’s 70.

Lowry was battling to make the cut after a bogey on the 10th, saw him level par for his round. But he delivered when the need was greatest to pick up shots on the 13th, 16th and 17th, an excellent string of birdies that leaves him above the projected cut line.

Graeme McDowell hit a brilliant 67 today and looks set to just avoid the cut on three-under.

There was disappointment for Padraig Harrington as his 71 today could not recover the damage of yesterday’s 76 as he finished three-over to confirm he will not play over the weekend.

Dubliner Niall Kearney followed up his first round of 71 with a 72, to finish on one-under, while Colm Moriarty was left frustrated with a 74 today after yesterday’s 68, to end up on two-under.

Gavin Moynihan (-1), Paul Dunne (level par), Mark Power (+1), Rowan Lester (+5), Robin Dawson (+8), Simon Thornton (+9), Neil O’Briain (+11) and Caolan Rafferty (+12) were the other Irish in action.

rory-mcilroy-and-tommy-fleetwood-share-a-joke-on-the-10th-tee Peter Fitzpatrick / INPHO Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood. Peter Fitzpatrick / INPHO / INPHO

Four-time major winner McIlroy was rightfully somewhat disappointed not to have fared even better after covering his first 10 holes in five under before finishing with eight straight pars.

“I got off to a better start and once you do that, you make a couple of birdies early, you start to feel like you can make a few more,” said McIlroy, who started on the back nine and birdied the 10th, 12th, 15th and 17th to be out in 32 before picking up another shot on the first.

“The greens were much better this morning than they were yesterday afternoon as well so it felt a little easier to hole putts and that’s really what I did.

“Everything was just a little bit better today and it just added up to a better score. It could have been a little better than what it was, playing the two par fives in even par on the front nine. I missed a couple of chances too, but it was better.”

McIlroy initially had a poor record in the Irish Open and missed the cut for three years in succession from 2013-15 before winning at the K Club in 2016 and donating the prize money to his foundation, which was hosting the event.

It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me,” the 32-year-old added.

“I definitely feel the support more than the expectation (now) and it makes it easier not living here any more, just separating myself from it all and coming back and just really enjoying the week has made a difference as well.”

With additional reporting by Press Association

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