Dunne and G-Mac stick around for Italian push
Survival for Paul Dunne and Graeme McDowell, but Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington missed the chance of a bumper pay day in the €6 million ($7m) Italian Open at Golf Club Milano yesterday.
That was the story of the day for the Irish as Australia's Marcus Fraser and Matt Wallace of England led the field into the weekend on 13-under par, two ahead of the nearest challengers Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand) and Jamie Donaldson (Wales), both on 11-under.
Home favourite and 2016 champion Francesco Molinari shot 68 for solo fifth place on ten-under par.
From an Irish perspective, Paul Dunne produced a very solid display, shooting 69 for a six-under total of 136 on the par 71 layout.
The recently crowned British Masters champion has now shot 15 rounds in the 60s of the last 22 rounds he has played, dating back to the Made in Denmark tournament in August.
That run includes 65, 61 at the British Masters, and a 65, 66 in the KLM Open.
Dunne continued the good work by carding 68, 67 over the first two days in Italy, with yesterday's scoring including an eagle three on the par-five 14th hole, his fifth hole, as he started on the 10th tee.
Graeme McDowell's brace of 69s over the first 36 holes for four-under par was just enough to get him past the halfway cut which fell at three-under.
This Rolex Series event attracted a top-class field and the prize money reflected the tournament's eminence as the fifth in the elite events.
Unfortunately, Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington will not bank a cheque for their efforts as they missed the cut.
Such was the hot pace of scoring with 66 players on the leaderboard with scores ranging from 13-under to four-under, competitors did not have to do much wrong to find themselves with an unexpected and unwelcome free weekend.
Lowry shot 69 and 71, for two-under par, leaving him one shot away from survival.
Harrington came into the tournament quietly confident about his game, despite missing the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week.
The Dubliner likes the course and enjoyed the good weather, but never got into his stride. An opening 73, followed by 69 yesterday, stalled him on level-par 142, well short of the safety zone.
Joint leader Marcus Fraser shot the score of the day, a nine-under-par 62, to rise 16 places from his starting position yesterday. It was the lowest round of his career, and Fraser, 39, really enjoyed scorching around the course.
Nine birdies, including five in a row from the eighth hole, and no bogeys was a splendid performance, and his putting was the envy of everyone in the field.
Three-time European Tour winner Fraser, 136th in the Race to Dubai rankings at the start of the week, was delighted with his performance on the greens where he needed only 21 putts over the 18 holes.
"It's been a rough year. I've been close packing it in and heading home. To come and do that today, I'm pretty proud of myself, and it's quite reassuring that I still can play golf," said Fraser.
Matt Wallace joined the Aussie at 13-under par courtesy of his second round 65.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia (2nd) played alongside Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood and third-placed Jon Rahm in a marquee three-ball.
Garcia's 67 brought him to nine-under; Rahm (66) and Fleetwood (66) are on five-under par.
- Italian Open, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 11.30am