Monday 5 December 2016

Lowry feels 'pure relief' after tough day for fighting Irish

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

Shane Lowry says he feels relieved after a tough day for the fighting Irish. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Shane Lowry says he feels relieved after a tough day for the fighting Irish. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Tour veterans Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley plus rookie professionals Gavin Moynihan and Gary Hurley were among the nine Irish players who survived the halfway cut in the Irish Open yesterday, but the door slammed shut on former champion Pádraig Harrington.

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A total of 22 Irishmen started the tournament, including three GUI amateurs.

By the end of play yesterday the reactions of the survivors ranged from relief in Shane Lowry's case, to pride in their fighting qualities from Clarke, McGinley and Graeme McDowell, and pleasure from rookie pros Moynihan and Hurley.

Significantly, only two of the Irish qualifiers came through the worst half of the draw - McGinley and Shane Lowry, the latter only just making the cut on the mark of two-over par. Rory McIlroy leads the home challenge at seven-under par.

Darren Clarke (71), McGinley (71), McDowell (72), and Moynihan (71) all came through on one-under.

Gary Hurley shot 71 for level par. A 75 got Paul Dunne into round three on one-over, while Kevin Phelan had a 70, also for one-over par. Shane Lowry filed 75 and just made it on plus two.

Lowry was twice in water on the back nine, on the 12th and the 18th, and had to hole a testing nine-foot putt for par on the last to stay in the tournament.

"Yeah, it was pure relief. I'm very happy to be around for the weekend," he said. "I think four-under might be inside the top-10. I'm only six shots off that.

"If I can post something in the mid-60s, maybe I can be up there inside the top-10 before the leaders tee off."

McGinley had some flow in his game when he scored four birdies in a row on holes nine to 12 inclusive. "I was obviously very pleased to have made the cut and be right there in contention, but I played well in The Irish Open last year, too.

"I was hovering around 20th position when I had to withdraw on the Sunday morning, so it's always nice to play an Irish Open."

Clarke's Ryder Cup duties inevitably encroach on his own golf but he was pleased to get through in his 25th Irish Open.

"Because I'm not playing that much competitive golf, I'm making silly mistakes but that's to be accepted," he said.

"My heart and soul is going into the Ryder Cup and my own golf, is second at the moment. If I do play half-decent, that's a bonus."

Harrington needed an eagle on the par-five 18th to make the weekend but his hopes ended in a watery grave when his aggressive second shot found the lake and he had to settle for a par and four-over after a 72

Irish Independent

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