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Séamus Power dreams big as Shane Lowry puts on late, late show to dodge cut at Mount Juliet

Waterford ace admits: ‘That was amazing, one of the better atmospheres I’ve ever played golf in’

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Séamus Power reacts to a rare missed putt during his second round at the Irish Open in Mount Juliet yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

Séamus Power reacts to a rare missed putt during his second round at the Irish Open in Mount Juliet yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

Séamus Power reacts to a rare missed putt during his second round at the Irish Open in Mount Juliet yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

Shane Lowry lifted the roof off Mount Juliet with a rousing four-birdie finish to make the cut and give Séamus Power a taste of what it might feel to win the Horizon Irish Open tomorrow.

With Power was cruising to a second successive 68 that left him in seven-way logjam for fourth on eight-under, just three strokes behind Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Lowry was resigned to packing his bags for home as he slipped four shots outside the projected cut line with eight holes to play.

That he turned it all around with four closing birdies gave the tournament some real Irish buzz, even if Campillo’s 68 gave him a one-shot lead over Poland’s Adrian Meronk and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanetti on 11-under.

Eight behind, tied for 47th with Pádraig Harrington on three-under after a 70, Lowry knows his chances of winning a second Irish Open have gone bar a miracle.

But while he insisted he found something with his putting that gives him huge hope for The Open in two weeks, Irish eyes are on Power after a controlled and hugely impressive performance in difficult conditions.

“That was amazing, one of the better atmospheres I’ve ever played golf in, especially having so much support,” Power said after making a six-footer on the 18th for his seventh birdie of the day, moments after Lowry made a 20-footer that drew a roar worthy of a Ryder Cup-winning putt.

“I haven’t seen a reaction like that on a Friday in tournament golf as long as I have played. It was amazing. You knew there was going to be a roar when it went in but it was a bit louder than I was expecting. I took an extra couple of seconds with my putt but it was good. He was kind of out of it, he was in the bunker on 15 and then he’s there for the weekend. It’s great for him and the tournament and Irish golf. He’ll have a big following in the morning.”

Lowry’s fightback breathed life into the Irish challenge that was being kept on life support by Power as Harrington and Lowry sit in the pack and Niall Kearney shares 64th after a 74 saw him make the cut on the two-under-par limit.

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Having struggled on the greens in the Canadian Open and the US Open, and again yesterday for 11 holes, Lowry walked away with renewed confidence in his putting.

Two-over for the day and one-over for the tournament after sloppy sixes at the eighth and 10th, he made a 20-footer at 12th, bogeyed the 13th but then caught fire on the greens.

He made two 15-footers at the 15th and 16th, almost eagled the 17th, then raised such a roar by holing his 20-footer at the last, it reminded him of last September’s Ryder Cup.

“Séamus was out there and I was kind of playing second fiddle to him, he was rolling putts in and the crowd were getting behind him and I felt a little flat for a long time,” Lowry said. “But as soon as I started making a few putts, the crowd helped me along the way coming down the last few holes.

“That’s why we love this tournament, that’s why we love this country, moments like that.”

Even if he’d missed the cut, Lowry would have left a happy man having rediscovered his putting touch.

“I definitely felt like I’ve lost a bit of confidence in my putting over the last . . . just in the last two weeks,” he said. “My putting has been as good as it’s ever been, or for the last year. And the thing is it’s all about self-talk, you need to keep telling yourself that you’re doing the right things. So hopefully these two rounds will stand me in good stead going forward.”

Putting with a weapon he designed himself for Ping five years ago, Power was outstanding on the greens.

He bogeyed the fourth but despite the difficult conditions, he came to life by making five birdies in the next seven holes, though the pick of them was arguably a two-putt at the 10th following a hammered, 250-yard five-wood from a fairway bunker to the heart of the green.

While he would drop shots coming home at the 12th and 16th, he also managed birdies at the 13th and 18th to give himself a great platform to chase what would be a dream win.

“It was a good day,” he said of his 68. “The front nine was tough with all that rain. I’d say for nine-and-a-half holes it was pretty nasty out there so pretty pleased. If you had given me that coming down the first fairway I would have been delighted so in a good spot now going into the weekend.”

He knows he now carries Irish hopes but he feels ready to take that step in front of a sell-out crowd.

“It would be huge, one of the things you grow up dreaming about in golf,” he said. “Obviously I need another good one tomorrow to give myself a chance on Sunday.

"Seems I’m in a good spot only three back but it’s going to be more of the same for me and maybe just cut out a couple of the mistakes and I should have a chance.”

Insisting he’s ready to win again, he said: “I’ve felt like that for a while . . . My game feels in good shape and I feel in a good place mentally. They are two important factors but you need stuff to go your way.”

While amateur Mark Power missed out by just two shots after a second successive 72, the quality of the golf played by Power, Lowry, Harrington and Kearney was put in perspective by the other Irish scores.

Cormac Sharvin missed his 12th cut this year on four-over after a 76 with Jonathan Caldwell a shot further back after a 78 while Paul Dunne’s arduous climb back from the doldrums continued as he shot 80 to finish 10 shots outside the cut mark on eight-over.

Horizon Irish Open,
Live, RTÉ/Sky Sports, 1.10

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