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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Shane Lowry lights up The Open and shares the lead after day 2

The Offaly man showed delight and disappointment in equal measure on his final hole today, but he shares the lead with JB Holmes.

Lowry in the long grass on the seventh.
Lowry in the long grass on the seventh.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

SHANE LOWRY COULDN’T help release a smile and a laugh as he soaked in the acclaim while walking up the 18th fairway at Portrush holding the outright lead in the 148th Open Championship.

The 32-year-old backed up his opening round 67 in magnificent style, tearing into day two on Dunluce with four birdies in his opening five holes – and a fifth wasn’t far away – before reaching -10 with his sixth red number of the day on the 10th hole.

But majors forever leave golfers treading a razor-thin line between triumph and disaster and the Offaly man was grimacing as he completed another superb round of 67.

Having hit his second shot on the 18th just shy of the green, Lowry clipped a sumptuous approach shot onto the green and watched it sail an inch past the hole.

What was almost a magnificent -10 finish became a two-putted -8. Yet he will hardly lament the ‘nearly’ for long as he enters The Open Championship weekend in a tie atop the leaderboard with JB Holmes.

The leading Irishman has every reason to be confident of sustaining this challenge for a first major as adverse and changeable conditions continue to swirl in Portrush. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods played their way out of contention yesterday, but big beasts in the shape of Jon Rahm (-4) and Brooks Koepka (-5) will not be easily counted out.

With the projected cut at +1. Graeme McDowell did just enough to make the weekend with his round of 70 today. Woods (+6) is likely almost wheels-up and out of Northern Ireland already will be out of town this, but McIlroy is playing like a man determined to be more than a spectator tomorrow. The world number three has powered through day two with seven birdies and a bogey to leave him +2 (through 16).

Padraig Harrington’s weekend schedule is wide open, however. The Dubliner shot four birdies on day two, but wound up with a 70 and a +3 finish, the same score as Darren Clarke as he backed up yesterday’s early par round with a 74 today.

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Sean Farrell

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