Lowry hails added string to his Bo as McIlroy lurks in China
Shane Lowry might be 11 strokes off the lead in the WGC HSBC Champions but he's certainly not blaming his caddie as he winds up the most successful season of his career.
The Open champion regards Belfast man Brian 'Bo' Martin as one of the keys to his stunning success this year and his bid to win the Race to Dubai.
Lowry could only manage a second successive, level par 72 that left him 11 strokes behind Matthew Fitzpatrick and 10 behind the in-form Rory McIlroy in Shanghai.
But he was still beaming as Martin roamed Sheshan International sporting the 'HSBC Caddie of the Year' bib yesterday.
"Bo's bib says it all," said Lowry, who is third behind Austria's Bernd Wiesberger in the Race to Dubai but planning to play only next week's Turkish Airlines Open and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship
Lowry is just a shot behind Wiesberger, tied for 50th on level par as the Austrian shot 73 to share 42nd on one-under.
He believes the emphasis on driving this week makes McIlroy is the red-hot favourite to win for the fourth time this season.
The Holywood star is well-placed, lurking just one-stroke behind Fitzpatrick on 10-under par after a closing eagle gave him a second successive 67.
After making four birdies in a row from the third to take the early lead, the world No 2 played the next 11 holes in one-over before hitting a long iron to three feet at the par-five 18th.
"I'm delighted with the first two rounds," McIlroy said. "To put myself right in contention going into the weekend is something that I wanted to do.
"The way I started, four-under through six, I was thinking maybe shoot a better score than I shot yesterday. "But you miss a couple of fairways, miss a couple of greens and this course all of a sudden gets pretty tricky.
"It's something that I haven't done a lot of over the last few weeks. I've sort of had bad starts and then clawed my way back into a good position at the end but to be right in the tournament after two days, I'm excited."
Fitzpatrick (25) also shot 67 but with McIlroy just one stroke behind and defending champion Xander Schauffele, South Korean Sungjae Im and Australian Adam Scott only two strokes back, he knows he has his work cut out.
"I've been fortunate enough to be in this position a few times already this year," said Fitzpatrick, who has four runner-up finishes but no wins since last year's Omega European Masters. "It's a little bit different being a WGC. It means a little bit more to everyone."
In the opposite field Bermuda Championship, Seamus Power produced a sensational finish to lie just six shots off the lead at Port Royal in Hamilton.
The West Waterford man made three birdies going out but then followed a double-bogey the fourth (his 13th) with an eagle at the 517-yard seventh and a birdie at the last.
His four-under 67 left him tied for 26th in the clubhouse on five-under par and just six shots behind clubhouse leaders Harry Higgs and Brendan Todd.
Higgs shot 65 and Tood an eight-under 63 to lead by one stroke from Boo Weekley, Aaron Wise and Wes Roach on 11-under.
In amateur golf, Seapoint's Dylan Keating (17) closed with a level par 72 at Ballybunion's Cashen Course to win the Munster Boys Championship by five strokes on level par from Edmondstown's Liam Abom and Roscommon's Thomas Higgins.