Irish Open: Day Two

Padraig Harrington and Paul Dunne lead the Irish charge at Portstewart after McIlroy's missed cut

Ruaidhri Croke Fri, Jul 7
 
LIVE: Irish Open: Day Two

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  • 08:01

    Hello and welcome to the Irish Times golf blog live from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart. John O'Sullivan here at a wet and windy Portstewart Golf Club, the low-slung, slate grey skies enveloping the links.


    I was looking for a suitable discription for the conditions and came up with two. Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí (it's raining cobbler's knives) or if you prefer in French Il tombe des cordes (it's raining ropes). You get the picture.  


    I'll be keeping a weather eye on the progress - there'll be loads of grating metaphors as it's that kind of morning - of Paul Dunne (8.10) and Rory McIlroy (8.20) who are among a plethora of early Irish starters.  

  • 08:02
    One person definitely not in Portstewart is BBC golf guru Ken Brown judging by this post.  
  • 08:02
  • 08:07
    Philip Reid offered his appraisal of Thursday's fare and it's word a read before tucking into today's play.
  • 08:11
  • 08:12
    The tee shot on the 1st is among the most breathtaking in golf........anywhere in the world.  
  • 08:14
    I was looking for an appropriate format to introduce the Round 2 tee times and came up with this format which involves the official draw sheet. Let me know what you think.  
  • 08:14
  • 08:17
    There are 104 players under par at the moment. The guesstimate with the variable weather conditions for the morning is that the cut mark will be three or four under, which means that tournament host and defending champion Rory McIlroy will probably need a 68 to make the weekend.  
  • 08:17
    Conditions are challenging now but expected to ease in terms of the rain shortly.  
  • 08:21

    The leaderboard prior to the start of play was bookended by Frenchmen, Benjamin Herbert (64) in a tie for first place and Sebastien Gros (82) who was propping up the field.  


    That's changed now because the man who shot the joint best round on Thursday, American Daniel Im (-9) has moved into the outright lead with a birdie on his opening hole, the 10th and he's followed that with a couple of pars.  

  • 08:25
    A couple of Swedes Jens Fahrbring (-4) and Robert Karlsson (-4) have managed an early birdie. Dunne (-5) is on the 10th green, his first hole, while McIlroy (par) is walking to his tee shot on the same hole.  
  • 08:27
    BIRDIE: Greystones finest, Dunne, might have dreamt about a fast start last night and it proves some do come true because he's birdied the 10th hole. He moves to six under and three behind.  
  • 08:38
    Colm Moriarty (-1), Michael Hoey (-4) and Paul McGinley (+4) have all recorded pars for their respective first holes.  
  • 08:40
    You can add McIlroy (par) to that list as he pencils in a regulation four, at the 10th, his opening hole.  
  • 08:45
    BIRDIE: Swashbuckling Spaniard Jon Rahm (-8) thrusts his way into second place with a birdie on the 10th. He's playing alongside McIlroy. I'm going for some early morning alliteration. He said after yesterday's round that he will take inspiration from late Seve's exploits at the Irish Open. No finer example.    
  • 08:52
    Dunne (-6) has started birdie, par and is currently playing the 12th.  
  • 08:54
    Spare a thought for poor old Dane Lucas Bjerregaard, who started today's second round on three under. Teeing off the 10th, he's gone par, double bogey, bogey, double bogey to slip to two over. They're be other tales of woe in the pipeline...........but for whom?  
  • 08:56
    McIlroy's enjoyed a Noddy's car start; par, par. If you're too young to remember Noddy, ask an adult.  
  • 08:59
    IRISH ON THE COURSE: -6: Dunne thru 2; -4 Hoey thru 2, -1 Moriarty thru 4; par: McIlroy thru 2; +2: Clarke thru 1; +4 McGinley thru 3.  
  • 09:06

    Right what do you want to know about Daniel Im (-9) who currently leads the Irish Open?


    Okay, he was born in New Jersey and went to college at UCLA. He played on the Candian Tour, a couple of seasons on the Challenge Tour (2013, 2015). He's 32 years of age.    

  • 09:11
    BIRDIE: Ian James Poulter (-5) is on the birdie trail early. Matthew Fitzpatrick (-6) starts with a par.  
  • 09:19
    BOGEY: Dunne (-5) gives the early birdie back with bogey on the par three, 12th. Ditto Rahm (-7).  
  • 09:25
    BOGEY: McIlroy (+1) also drops a shot at the 12th. He's now about five shots outside the anticipated cut mark. Someone suggested he'll be able to watch the Lions game at home on Saturday morning without any playing distractions. Another ventured that at this rate he'll be home for Coronation Street tonight. Hideki Matsuyama (-4) has bogeyed the 11th.  
  • 09:28
    BIRDIE: Mathew Fitzpatrick (-7) makes a promising start to his second round.  
  • 09:30
    Im-perious that's the only way to describe the Irish Open leader, Daniel Im so far. He's one under through seven holes of his second round.  
  • 09:33
    Talk about perfectly timed Im moves to 10 under with a birdie on the 17th, his eighth hole. He's two clear.  
  • 09:37
    IRISH ON THE COURSE:  -5: Dunne thru 4; -4 Hoey thru 6; -3 Hurley thru 1; -2 Higgins thru 1; -1 Moriarty thru 4; par: McIlroy thru 4; +2: Clarke thru 2; +7 McGinley thru 5.
  • 09:39

    BIRDIE: McIlroy gets that short back immediately at the par five, 13th but it's back to square one with a quarter of his round played. Conditions are more difficult at the moment but even if the cut mark didn't move from its current position of two under, he's still got a bit to do.


    BOGEY: David Higgins drops a shot at his first hole.  

  • 09:39
  • 09:41
    Spain's Alejandro Canizares is producing the best golf of the day so sar as he's three under through seven holes and five under for the tournament.  
  • 09:52
    I of course meant to spell Jon Rahm corectly. No H. It's these early mornings.  
  • 09:55
    I have spent the last few minutes discussing Man Utd's transfer policy and the merits of the Morata v Lukaku conundrum. A bit like McIlroy's round there has been no forward progress.  
  • 09:57

    EAGLE: Rahm picks up a couple of shots at the par five, 14th.


    BIRDIES: Matthew Fitzpatrick moves to eight under and Ian Poulter to six under.The Irish Open has had more English winners than any other nationality. You're welcome.  

  • 09:59
    Rahm (-9) is one behind Im (-10) and two ahead of Herbert (-8) and Fitzpatrick (-8).  
  • 10:00
    BIRDIE: Attaboy Rory (-1). Two birdies in succession at the par five, 13th and 14th holes. He's in red figures for the tournament. It's one of the few times that being in the red is advantageous.  
  • 10:02

    TRIPLE BOGEY: Darren Clarke (+5) suffers a bit of a nightmare at the par three, 12th. It's proving troublesome for most so far today.


    THREE BOGEYS: Moriarty (+2) drops three shots in as many holes  

  • 10:07

    BIRDIE: Rahm-ba-lam as as the Ram Jam band sang in their hit song, Black Betty. Say that 10 times fast. The Spaniard birdies the 16th to join Im at the top of the leaderboard.  

  • 10:11
    Im is leading the Irish Open. Im is also the Irish for butter. Please come up with your own analogy. I'm too busy.  
  • 10:11
  • 10:14
    BIRDIE: Fitzpatrick moves to nine under, one behind, with his third birdie in five holes.  
  • 10:16
    BOGEY: Dunne (-4) drops a shot at the 16th, he's one over for his round, after a promising start with a birdie at the 10th. The scoring in general like the day is warming up.  
  • 10:19
    BOGEY: Hoey (-3) at the 17th.  
  • 10:19
  • 10:21
    BOGEY: McIlroy (par) hands back a shot at the 16th. It's panning out like yesterday or deja vu all over again, as someone once wrote. It's the air conditioning here, I think they might have switched it off.    
  • 10:24
  • 10:26
    BIRDIE: Im moves one clear at the top with a birdie on the second, his 11th hole.  
  • 10:31
    BIRDIE: McIlroy (-1) makes a third birdie in a five hole run that included a bogey and a par. He's playing the 18th, his ninth. Ominously the cut mark has moved to three under. I'm trying to introduce some tension and angst.  
  • 10:31
  • 10:33
    STAT ATTACK: There are exactly 100 players currently under par.  
  • 10:35
    BOGEY: Im (-10) drops his first shot of the Irish Open after a 29-hole blemish free run.  
  • 10:40
    BOGEY: Ditto, Fitzpatrick (-8) who drops his first shot of the tournament after 26 holes.  
  • 10:44
    McIlroy's (-1) putt on the 18the green caresses the side of the hole but stays above ground. He turns in 35 and will now play the front nine having started on the 10th. He needs to come home in about 33 shots to guarantee his place at the weekend.  
  • 10:47
    IRISH IN ACTION: Gavin Moynihan  -5 thru 3;  Paul Dunne  -4  thru 9;  Michael Hoey  -3  thru 10;  David Higgins  -3  thru 5;  Gary Hurley  -2  thru 4;  Rory McIlroy  -1  thru 9;  Dermot McElroy  +1  thru 4;  Colm Moriarty  +2  thru;  Darren Clarke  +4  thru 7;  Damien McGrane +4 thru 3;  Paul McGinley  +8  thru 9
  • 10:48
    BIRDIE: Rahm (-11) takes the lead. Here's how.  
  • 10:48
  • 11:01
    Ryan Fox (-8) is three under for his round through six holes. He's the son of former All Black outhalf Grant Fox. Is it an omen for tomorrow? New Zealand v Lions. No. Okay then.  
  • 11:03
    BOGEY: Fitzpatrick (-7) gives back another shot. Three under for his first seven holes, two over for the last two.  
  • 11:09
    BOGEY: Rahm drops a shot at the first hole, his 10th. He's joint leader with Im. Herbert (-9) one back.  
  • 11:11
    BIRDIE: Fox (-9) makes it four birdies in a row.    
  • 11:11
  • 11:13
    BIRDIE:  Ireland's Gavin Moynihan (-6) birdies the 14th he's four off the lead.  
  • 11:14
    BIRDIE: Dunne (-6) gets a shot back at the second, his 11th.  
  • 11:15
    France's Damien Perrier (-4) has a sparkling round going with four birdies. Here all week folks.  
  • 11:16
    McIlroy (-1) needs three birdies in seven holes to guarantee his place over the weekend.  
  • 11:17
    There are 101 players under par. The projected cut mark is currently three under.  
  • 11:19
    BIRDIE: Rahm, an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys and he's back into the outright lead with another red figure at the second, his 11th.  
  • 11:20
    BIRDIE: Just as I finished typing, Im birdies the par three sixth, his 15th.  
  • 11:21
    BIRDIE: Dunne (-6) with successive birdies at the second and third.  
  • 11:23
    Three birdies for Lee Westwood (+6) has rather been undone by a bogey, double bogey, double bogey run around the turn.  
  • 11:24
  • 11:31

    Who is is France's Benjamin Herbert (-10) no one asked? But I don't care, you're getting this anyway.


    He played for the French Amateur team for three years, and also represented his country in the Eisenhower Trophy. He won the European Amateur Champions    hip in 2007 to earn a place in the field for the 137th Open Championship the following year. Retained his playing privileges for the first time in his career in 2015, following several seasons yo-yoing between the European and Challenge Tours.  

     

    In 2014 he ended a fine campaign in style by winning the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club, his third title of the campaign, which made him the first player to achieve that feat in two different seasons. With six Challenge Tour titles, he is now the third most successful player in European golf second tier’s history. Enjoys surfing.

     

  • 11:33
    The 2015 Irish Open champion at Royal County Down Soren Kjeldsen glides to seven under.  
  • 11:37
    BIRDIE: Kjeldsen (-8) squeezes another one out of the Portstewart links.  
  • 11:37
  • 11:39
    BIRDIE: Im (-12) smiles as he drops a 15-footer. He's the outright leader.  
  • 11:39
    The rain is back with a vengeance too.  
  • 11:42
  • 11:49
    BIRDIE: McIlroy (-2) showing his mettle clawing another shot back at the ar five, fourth. He's one outside the cut mark now.  
  • 11:54
    BOGEY: Cardinal sin for a prodigious hitter like Rahm (-10) in bogeying a par five.  
  • 11:56
    BOGEYS: Gavin Moynihan (-4) with a brace in two holes. Making the cut at the Irish Open is owrth a minimum of ¢10,000. Just saying.  
  • 11:56
  • 11:57
    BOGEY: Fox (-8) drops a shot at the first, his 10th.  
  • 12:01
    IRISH IN ACTION:  Paul Dunne  -6  thru 14;  Gavin Moynihan  -4 thru 8;  Michael Hoey  -3  thru 14;  David Higgins  -3  thru 9;  Rory McIlroy  -2  thru 13;  Gary Hurley  -2  thru 8;  Damien McGrane  +1  thru 8
    Dermot McElroy  +2  thru 6;  Colm Moriarty  +3  thru 15;  Darren Clarke  +6  thru 11;  Paul McGinley  +7  thru 13
  • 12:02
    BIRDIE: Rahm (-11) birdies the fifth, his 14th, so too Matsuyama (-6)  
  • 12:04
    Dunne watches a birdie putt on slip turn its nose up at the hole and head right. Underhit from about 10 feet. Unlike him to be fair.  
  • 12:05
    BIRDIE: There's no stopping Im (-13), he's spreadeagling the field; the old butter analogies just won't go away.  
  • 12:08
  • 12:12

    The 2016 US Masters champion Danny Willett is being ferried in from the course after withdrawing with a back injury.  


    BIRDIE: Matsuyama (-7) holes a putt from a postcode in Antrim.  

  • 12:14
    BOGEY: McIlroy (-1) bogeys the sixth. The sand in the egg timer is running out. Two adrift of the cut mark and three holes to play, albeit, one is a par five. Fortune cookie commentary.  
  • 12:16
    BIRDIE: Fox trots to nine under. I promise I won't do any more.  
  • 12:24
    BIRDIE: Dunne (-7) takes advantage of the par five, seventh. There will be a big Greystones contingent in his gallery. I'm taking about Killian and Pat O'Dowd specifically though.  
  • 12:24
  • 12:25
  • 12:26
    Pulled tee shot on seven. missed green right and an indifferent chip, McIlroy (-1) will have 15 feet for birdie; a must make.  
  • 12:31
    BIRDIES: Matsuyama (-8), Raham (-12), McIlroy lips out for his. It's been that kind of week for the tournament host and unless he finishes birdie, birdie, he'll miss his fourth Irish Open cut in four years; the only time he made the weekend, he won the tournament (2016, K Club). Discuss.  
  • 12:40
    McIlroy (-1) misses fairway from the tee on eight, watches his approach fail to negotiate the false front on the green and roll back about 30 feet into a swale.  
  • 12:41
  • 12:45
  • 12:47
    DOUBLE BOGEY: McIlroy (+1) shoves his chip through the green, chips back to eight feet and misses. The tournament host and defending champion's only golfing remit over the weekend will be to be back on Sunday to present the winner's trophy.  
  • 12:47
  • 12:51
    The sound of a helicopter in the distance........taxi for Rory.  
  • 12:54

    BIRDIE: Dunne (-8) finishes his round in style with a superb up and down. That's good enough for a tie for fifth place at the moment.


    BIRDIES: Back to back for Gavin Moynihan (-6)  

  • 12:57
  • 13:05

    McIlroy (+1) cuts an understandably disconsolate figure as he taps in on the ninth for par. A fourth missed cut at the Irish Open in five years and the defending champion and tournament host will be back to present the trophy to the winner on Sunday.  


    Rahm (-12) misses a 10-foot birdie putt for s share of the lead but that's a 67 to go with yesterday's 65. Matsuyama (-9) birdies four of the last five holes; 67, 68.  

  • 13:09
    It's a pity for the tournament and the galleries. McIlroy's been fighting his game this week. It's not just his putting. A misbehaving driver has undermined his efforts, compunded down the stretch by having to chase birdies during today's round.  
  • 13:10
    McIlroy heads to the Scottish Open next week, added to his schedule due to his earlier injury problems this season. He needs as much competitive golf as he can get ahead of Birkdale.  
  • 13:10
  • 13:11
    Here are those tee times again.  
  • 13:15

    BIRDIE: Fox moves to 10-under with three to play.


    BOGEY: Fitzpatrick (-6) is three under at one stage for his round today but three bogeys wreck the card and he signs for a 72 to go with an opening 66.  


    BOGEY: Moynihan (-5) bogeys the fourth. He hasn't had a par yet on what is his back nine.  

  • 13:21
    Shane Lowry (-4) and Graeme McDowell (-5) has just teed off and is about to. Michael Hoey (-4) followed up his 68 with a 72.  
  • 13:26
    IRISH IN ACTION:  Paul Dunne  -8  thru 18;  Gavin Moynihan  -5  thru 13;  Michael Hoey -4  thru 18; David Higgins  -4  thru 14;  Gary Hurley  E  thru 14;  Damien McGrane  E  thru 14;  ;  Dermot McElroy  E  thru 13;  Rory McIlroy  +1 thru 18;  Richard Kilpatrick  +3  thru 3;  Colm Moriarty  +4  thru 18;  Paul McGinley  +8  thru 18;  Darren Clarke  +8  thru 17
  • 13:28
    BIRDIE: Fox (-11) closes to within two of the lead, with back to back birdies.  
  • 13:29
    BOGEY: Moynihan (-4) three bogeys, two birdies, no pars on the front nine, his back nine.  
  • 13:55
    Johnny Watterson is polishing his similes and ready to take over the blog. He's great company. Join him for the afternoon.  
  • 13:55
  • 14:06
    Thankyou John O'Sullivan for an entertaining morning session. The bar is now open. If you see Rory in there well, our commiserations.

    LEADERBOARD
  • 14:10
    Great morning for the best of the Irish so far, Paul Dunne. He's in the clubhouse on -8 and five shots off the leader, Daniel Im, who followed a great day one 64 with a 67 this morning is -13.
  • 14:21

    Ryan Fox, son of Grant, the All Black legend has just finished his round and he's pleased he will get to see the third Test tomorrow between The Lions and NZ. That's because he's-11, shooting a 66 today to follow an opening 67.

    "I'll be biased here and think the Lions might have poked the bear here," he says. Agreed sir.

  • 14:29

    Irish watch -


    Paul Dunne -8 (F) Moynihan -6 (F) Lowry -4 (4) Harrington -4 (3) Higgins -3 (F) O'briain par, (yet to tee off) McGrane +1 (F) Hurly +1 (F) Thornton +1 (yet to tee off) Moriarty +4 (F) McGinley +8 (F)

  • 14:34
    Harrington takes off his top and it's salmon pink or is it day glo orange.? Nicely goes with his powder pink trousers. He's chugging along nicely but needs birdies at -4 thro 3 holes
  • 14:40
  • 14:42
  • 14:47
    Gavin Lyons Can you give any updates on the conditions out on the course? Weather, pins etc
  • 14:54
  • 14:56

    Harrington has moved to -5 through five holes and knocks up an iron to set up a birdie chance on the sixth green. Maybe 12 feet....

    He shaves the cup. Good try.

  • 14:58
    Niall How come Harrington is not listed in your "Irish in Action"?
  • 15:01
    Lowry is 140 yards to pin. He asks for it to go and it does at the 8th. A chance here for the Offaly man. If he makes this putt he moves to -6 and seven off the lead.
  • 15:02
  • 15:07
    The best on the course right now is England's Anthony Wall, who is making a charge. Five birdies today and no bogeys puts him at five under thro his first 10 holes. That's just three off the -13 clubhouse lead of Herbert and Im.
  • 15:08
  • 15:09
  • 15:12
    His second birdie in a row moves Lowry to -6 thro 8 holes in an unblemished round so far. His drive on nine, now that's a different matter. Lets hope he has landed it on the trampled down terrain and can find it.
  • 15:14
    Shadows on the course. Take a picture quick!
  • 15:15
    Just looking through Lowry's cards. He hasn't had a bogey yet in 26 holes.
  • 15:18
    Can't say its   nice watching the players stand on the side of a mountain hitting a blind approach with one foot two feet above the other. But at least we all know how they feel. It is comforting.
  • 15:22
    Immaculate recovery shot from Lowry out of the munchies at 9. He shaves the cup for birdie and turns with a steady 34 and -6.
  • 15:24
  • 15:32

    McDowell misses the 8th short and right. His pitch on leaves him with a long par putt. He misses that but secures a bogey for -3 thro 8 holes. His disadvantage is that he's sometimes 60 yards behind his playing partners off the tee.

    Thing is the projected cut is -3. They won't want Rory and G-Mac departing today.

  • 15:32
    Patricia Morgan Don't worry about our Rory - plenty more trophies waiting for him....Just go ahead and donate a few quid, Rory!! Great tournament so Congrats on that!!
  • 15:33
  • 15:35
    "I'm pretty happy, a couple of birdies. I hope I can pick up a few more on the back 9. You can be quite aggressive around here but it can jump up and bite you," Lowry during a mid round interview.
  • 15:37
  • 15:38
    G-Mac turns in 3 under par, making a six footer for par on the 9th. Gutsy - he always is.
  • 15:39
  • 15:40
    Lowry spoke to soon at the interview walking off the 9th green. His approach fell well short at 10 and he didn't get down in two. That's his first bogey of the tournament and he falls to -5.
  • 15:43
    Nice birdie on 8 from Harrington, which moves him to 6 under. That's his third birdie of the round after a shaky bogey at the first. But all good now and smiles all round.
  • 16:03
    Afternoon everyone, Ruaidhri Croke here to take you through the next 30 minutes or so while Johnny is given temporary release to get a cup of coffee and perhaps even a bar of chocolate.
  • 16:07

    So, Anthony Wall is currently the best placed player on the course at 10 under with five to play - just three shots behind leaders Daniel Im and Benjamin Hebert.

    Padraig Harrington has reached the turn at six under with Shane Lowry a shot further back through 11 holes.

    Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell needs a birdie or two to go into the weekend in decent position - he's currently three under with eight to play.

  • 16:11

    And G-Mac might just do that. He's fizzed a gorgeous approach into the 11th, leaving eight feet for birdie.

    Speaking of birdies, Lowry has just picked up one at the 12th after a tee shot to 20 feet or so at the par three was followed up by a gorgeous putt right into the centre of the cup.

    That gets the Offalyman to six under alongside Harrington and Moynihan - two shots behind the best of the Irish, Paul Dunne.

  • 16:16

    IRISH LEADERBOARD

    -8 Dunne (F), -6 Moynihan (F), -6 Lowry (12), -6 Harrington (10), -4 Hoey (F), -3 Higgins (F), -3 McDowell (10), E McElroy (F), E O'Briain (6), +1 McGrane (F), +1 McIlroy (F), +1 Hurley (F), +1 Thornton (6), +2 Kilpatrick (14), +4 Moriarty (f), +8 McGinley (F), +8 Clarke (F).

    Projected cut: -3.

    If you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player (perhaps you've backed a few), get in touch using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog and I'll give you all of the info.

  • 16:24

    So, out of the 17 Irish players who started the week, we're currently looking at seven of them making the cut.

    Not too bad given the excellent standard of scoring so far. What a performance as well from Gavin Moynihan. The Dubliner is very much following the long route on to the European Tour but has enjoyed some success recently with a win on the EuroPro Tour and a second place on the Challenge Tour.

    A big weekend at Portstewart could well turn out to be life changing for the 22-year-old.

    But, back to the golf on the course, and Harrington has now gone one ahead of Moynihan with a rare birdie at the 11th.

    The three-time major winner is three under for the day and playing some really good stuff. At the par three 12th he's arrowed his tee shot intp the middle of the green and will have 20 feet for birdie.

  • 16:26

    Meanwhile, the hottest man in golf at the moment - Tommy Fleetwood - is carving a path through the field.

    Birdies at the second, fourth, seventh, ninth, 10th and the latest at the 12th have him at five under for the day and seven under for the tournament.

  • 16:30

    In a little aside, Sergio Garcia is wearing his green jacket at Wimbledon today and sitting in the Royal Box beside David Beckham. It's a tough life, being Masters champion.

    It's even tougher for 2016 winner Danny Willett who withdrew today after 12 holes - a recurring theme of his season as he struggles with back injuries and another blow in a career that has taken a severe downward curve since that Sunday at Augusta.

  • 16:33

    Shane Lowry gets to seven under!

    The 2009 winner rattles in his 20 foot birdie putt at the 13th and moves alongside Harrington. The two former winners of the championship are nicely moving themselves into position before the weekend.

  • 16:36
  • 16:40

    A particularly interesting new swing move being put in play by Harrington this week as he steps forward with his right foot through the swing.

    Speaking to Sky Sports he says it's a move to release some pressure on his back as he swings through.

    The weird and wonderful mind of Harrington at it's very best. With three majors in the bank he can't be questioned. And you never know, with the way he's playing at the moment, he might just step himself all the way to a second Irish Open title on Sunday.

  • 16:40
    Andrew Johnston Will he make the cut . Have a £100 bet on him. Thank you in advance
  • 16:41
    Sorry to say that that's 100 quid well and truly gone. Beef has finished one over and is already on his way home for, presumably, a massive steak.
  • 16:46

    An eagle at the 16th for Matthew Southgate has moved him to 10 under and into a tie for fifth, just three off the lead. The Englishman is clearly being inspired by his excellent performance at the K Club last year which saw him finish tied second and secure his European Tour card just a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

    At the 14th Lowry should be about to go to eight under after another magnificent wedged approach tpo five feet.

  • 16:51

    Lowry's short birdie putt moves left and lips out. That's a big chance gone there for the Offalyman. He really should have moved to eight under.

    Alongside him, Thomas Pieters is one of the big names battling just to make it into the weekend. He's made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th to get to one under. The projected cut is currently still three under but could possibly move to four.

  • 16:53
    Inside that cutline is Graeme McDowell. He's four under playing the par five 14th and in good position to get up and down for another birdie. he'd be right up there alongside Lowry and Harrington if it wasn't for that double bogey seven at the fourth earlier.
  • 16:57

    It's a serious testament to Lowry's mental strength that he's three under par for the day today - especially considering how he's hit it off the tee. To put it kindly, he's been a bit all over the place.

    At the par three 15th he's pulled his tee shot into the hay and faces an almost impossible up and down to save par. But, if anyone can get down in two from there, it's the short game master.

  • 17:02

    From the long stuff Lowry can only bump a chip down to 20 feet or so, leaving an outside chance of par.

    But didn't I say if anyone can get up and down it's him?

    The putt is never anywhere else but the middle of the hole. That's a superb par save for Lowry and keeps him at seven under. That could well give him the momentum to pick up a birdie or two in his final three holes and move right into contention.

    Over at the eighth, his 17th, Southgate has followed his eagle with a birdie and is now up to 11 under!

  • 17:05

    It's a birdie for McDowell!

    From 20 yards short of the green at the 14th he negotiates it in two with the putter and picks up a birdie four. That moves him to five under and back to where he started the day with four to play.

  • 17:09

    IRISH LEADERBOARD

    -8 Dunne (F), -6 Moynihan (F), -7 Lowry (16), -7 Harrington (13),  -5 McDowell (14), -4 Hoey (F), -3 Higgins (F), E McElroy (F), E Thornton (9), +1 McGrane (F), +1 McIlroy (F), +1 Hurley (F), +1  O'Briain (9),  +2 Kilpatrick (F), +4 Moriarty (F), +8 McGinley (F), +8 Clarke (F).

    Projected cut: -3.

  • 17:13
  • 17:16

    Harrington moves to eight under!

    After that excellent second shot at the par five 14th he successfully gets down in two for a birdie four and he's now alongside Dunne as the highest placed Irishmen.

    Over at the par three 15th McDowell has given one back after pulling his tee shot into the long rough and failing to recreate Lowry's heroics. He slips back to four under.

  • 17:19

    Outstanding stuff from Southgate at his final hole - the ninth. After missing the fairway with his drive he was forced to hack out, leaving a long up and down to save par. But he does so no problem at all to maintain his record over no dropped shots in 36 holes and sign for a 68 and an 11 under total. Superb play.

    At the par three 15th Harrington has found the middle of the green with his tee shot, leaving 30 feet for birdie.

  • 17:23

    Harrington successfully negotiates the par three 15th in two to record a par and remain at eight under.

    At the 17th Lowry creased a drive down the middle but gets his approach all wrong, dumping it into the front bunker.

  • 17:31

    At the par four 16th Harrington has missed the fairway by a long way with his tee shot.

    Meanwhile, it's a dropped shot for Lowry at the 17th after he failed to get up and down from the front bunker. That moves the Offalyman back to six under.

    Playing alongside him, Rafa Cabrera-Bello will be the latest big name to miss the cut - he's one under with one to play.

    Meanwhile, Matteo Manassero has just signed for a second round 66 to sit at six under going into the weekend after an albatross at the par five seventh! Anyone else have him backed at 150/1...?

  • 17:38

    After finding his tee shot at the 16th, Harrington could only hack out to the fairway. His third shot finds the middle of the green and leaves him with 25 feet to save par.  

    Lowry has cracked his tee shot down the centre of the 18th fairway and is in good position to set up a birdie chance.

  • 17:41

    It's a good effort from Harrington for his par but it's not to be as it slips past on the right. That drops him back to seven under.

    Up ahead at the 18th Lowry has failed to take advantage of his good tee shot by pulling his approach way left into the gallery. He has serious work left now just to save par.

  • 17:44

    At the 17th McDowell's approach flew well over the back of the green but hit a spectator and came back onto the putting surface. From there he has got down in two to save par and remain four under with one hole to play.

    That has him right on the cut mark as it's now moved out to four under due to some good afternoon scoring.

    Alongside him, Justin Rose is still plodding along nicely at seven under with one to play.

  • 17:45

    What a disappointing finish for Lowry.

    He fails to get up and down at the 18th, makes a bogey and signs for a 71 thanks to a bogey, bogey finish.

    Playing alongside him, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thomas Pieters have both missed the halfway cut.

  • 17:53

    Another wayward tee shot from Harrington at the 17th luckily finishes on the grass that has been trampled down by spectators. He's able to muscle his approach up to the green but the rough means he can't control it and it bounds through to the back fringe.

    That'll be a long putt to negotiate in two to save par.

    Meanwhile, the cut mark has again moved back to three under. That gives McDowell a bit of breathing room as he comes down the last hole at four under.  

    LEADERBOARD

  • 17:59

    McDowell could be in serious trouble here.

    After hacking his second shot out to the fairway after a wayward drive, he's pulled his third shot left. He now needs up and down for bogey and a three under total which will leave a nervy hour and a half or so to see if he makes the cut. It's currently at three but could easily move to four. If he fails to get up and down it'll be a weekend off for G-Mac.

    At the 17th Harrington ran his long birdie putt 10 feet past but assuredly rolls in the par putt to remain at seven under.

    Ok, can McDowell get up and down to give himself a chance of making the cut? We're about to see.

  • 18:02

    McDowell's pitch comes up 12 feet short.

    12 feet to have any chance of playing the weekend at the Irish Open...

  • 18:05

    Graeme McDowell misses the cut.

    After a double bogey finish he signs for a 75 and will play no further part.

    After a 67 yesterday that's particularly disappointing for the 2010 US Open champion.

    Alongside him, Rose can't convert a short par putt and has to settle for a round of 70 and seven under par.

    Joining Rose is Tommy Fleetwood after a brilliant round of 67 puts last week's winner right in contention.

  • 18:06
    Ok, Harrington is making his way up the 18th fairway. He's seven under and looking for a big finish in front of the packed grandstands. I'll stick with you for that and then we'll wrap this blog up.
  • 18:10

    What a shot from Harrington!

    He's certainly given the grandstands that big finish. From a long way back and with a hybrid in his hands he's flighted his approach in to six feet. That's to finish alongside Dunne at eight under and just five off the lead going into the weekend.

  • 18:14
    Playing with Harrington, Andy Sullivan has conjured up a big finish by rolling in a 20 foot birdie putt to finish four under and confirm his place for the weekend. Great stuff from one of the most likeable players on tour.
  • 18:17

    Ah, Harrington.

    He misses his birdie putt left and has to be content with a round of 69 and a total of seven under.

  • 18:22

    With that, I shall leave you. It's been an excellent first two days at Portstewart and the weekend shapes up to be even better with big names such as Rahm, Matsuyama and Rose right in action, coupled with the well-placed Irish contingent of Dunne, Harrington and Lowry.

    I'll be with you for those final two rounds so be sure to tune in from around midday tomorrow. See you then, bye!

    IRISH LEADERBOARD

    -8 Dunne (F), -7 Harrington (F), -6 Moynihan (F), -5 Lowry (F), -4 Hoey (F), -3 Higgins (F), -2 McDowell (F), -1 Thornton (13), -1 O’Briain (14), E McElroy (F), +1 McGrane (F), +1 McIlroy (F), +1 Hurley (F), +2 Kilpatrick (F), +4 Moriarty (F), +8 McGinley (F), +8 Clarke (F).

    LEADING SCORES

    -13: Hebert, Im

    -12: Rahm

    -11: Fox, Southgate, Fisher

    -10: Peterson, Drysdale

    -9: Wall, Tanihara,  

    Projected cut: -4.

  • 18:24

    With that, I shall leave you. It's been an excellent first two days at Portstewart and the weekend shapes up to be even better with big names such as Rahm, Matsuyama and Rose right in action, coupled with the well-placed Irish contingent of Dunne, Harrington and Lowry.

    I'll be with you for those final two rounds so be sure to tune in from around midday tomorrow. See you then, bye!

    IRISH LEADERBOARD

    -8 Dunne (F), -7 Harrington (F), -6 Moynihan (F), -5 Lowry (F), -4 Hoey (F), -3 Higgins (F), -2 McDowell (F), -1 Thornton (13), -1 O’Briain (14), E McElroy (F), +1 McGrane (F), +1 McIlroy (F), +1 Hurley (F), +2 Kilpatrick (F), +4 Moriarty (F), +8 McGinley (F), +8 Clarke (F).

    LEADING SCORES

    -13: Hebert, Im

    -12: Rahm

    -11: Fox, Southgate, Fisher

    -10: Peterson, Drysdale

    -9: Wall, Tanihara, Matsuyama

    -8: Kjeldsen, Gallacher, Donaldson, Horsey, Zanotti, Uihlein, Dunne

    Projected cut: -4.