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Friday, 19 July 2019
Shane Lowry  (Getty Images)
Shane Lowry (Getty Images)

Shane Lowry produced a masterful front nine as he took a share of the clubhouse lead at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

The Irishman was roared on by a passionate crowd as he posted a four-under 67 in his second round, leaving him with his best 36-hole score at a Major Championship on eight under.

Of his five birdies, six came in the first eight holes and after another at the 10th he held a two shot lead before bogeys on the 14th and the 18th dropped him back alongside JB Holmes.

Lowry, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Presented by EGA in January, started with three straight birdies and added further gains on the fifth and eighth as he recorded a front nine of 31.

Better was to come on the 10th when he holed a monster putt down the hill for a birdie.

His blemish-free round came to a halt on the 14th when a par putt lipped out. And when he found sand on the par four next it looked as if his lead was about to disappear, but Lowry responded with a brilliant bunker shot that left him a tap-in for par.

The four-time European Tour winner missed the fairway with his drive on the 17th and after going off the back of the green, he nearly holed a chip before putting for par.

He narrowly missed the cup with another chip on the last but left himself with a lengthy putt for par, which missed to the right.

Lowry said: "I really, really enjoyed today. There's not too many days like that on the golf course. It's hard to describe.

The roar at the putt was unbelievable. Shane Lowry

"Obviously when I got to ten under you're looking at keeping it there, to get more. I'm at eight under now and I'm happy on my two days' work."

Lowry is enjoying the support he is getting from the locals.

He said: "I think it was incredible right from the first hole. And even the crowd didn't seem that big around the third green, but the roar at the putt was unbelievable. When I holed that putt on 10, that long one on 10, it was just incredible.

"You can't help but smile. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling."

Overnight leader Holmes had five birdies and two bogeys in his 68 which left him eight under for the tournament.

He knocked in his birdie putt from a couple of feet on the second and came close to making an unlikely birdie on the next hole when his 40 foot effort landed around a foot from the cup.

 

The American picked up another shot at the fifth before sending his tee shot to within 12 feet at the next for another gain.

Holmes dropped his first shot of the day at the ninth when he missed his close range par putt but he had back to back gains at the 12th and 13th and after missing a testing par putt at the 14th he held his nerve to par his way home.

Holmes said: "It's nice to get two rounds in a row. It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well.

"It's set up great for me. I felt good about it kind of all week. I've been hitting it really good."

English duo Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are on seven under after both firing 67s, which leaves them a shot clear of Major Champion Justin Rose, Australian Cameron Smith and South African Justin Harding.

Harding, who won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in March, had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys as he posted a 65 - the joint lowest round of the week so far.

Rose eagled the 12th to go with three birdies and a bogey as he looks to add to his 2013 U.S. Open Championship success while Australian PGA Championship winner Smith had just the one blemish on the ninth in his 66.

Dylan Frittelli, a two-time European Tour winner, had three birdies in a row from the 10th and jointly held the lead when he was on the 17th tee, but he finished double bogey-bogey to fall to five under, alongside Americans Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Andrew Putnam.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LOWRY, ShaneIRL18-15
2FLEETWOOD, TommyENG18-9
3FINAU, TonyUSA18-7
T4WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-6
T4KOEPKA, BrooksUSA18-6
T6MACINTYRE, RobertSCO18-5

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