McDowell roars into contention after flying round at Italian Open
Graeme McDowell surged into contention for his second Italian Open win with a super 66 in Rome.
But there will be no weekend action for Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington or Paul Dunne, who missed the level-par cut at tight and tricky Olgiata.
Lowry was in trouble after a double-bogey six at the third, and while he got back to level for the day with three holes to play, he couldn't pick up the birdie he needed to continue his pursuit of Jon Rahm in the Race to Dubai. His level-par 71 left him a shot outside the cut line alongside Harrington, who shot 69.
It was another trying week for Dunne, who struggled to find fairways and made eight bogeys in a 77 to miss his 12th cut of the season by five shots and now faces an anxious fortnight.
The Greystones man understood he had likely accumulated enough Race to Dubai points to keep his card. But he may now need to make a cut in France or Portugal over the next fortnight to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Italian Open champion in 2004, McDowell (40) made four birdies in his first 10 holes, then rebounded from two bogeys in the next three with a birdie two at the 14th and a stunning 248-yard five wood to 12 feet that set up an eagle three at the 17th.
A five-under 66 left the Portrush man tied for third on-seven under with Justin Rose, Andrew Johnston, Shubhankar Sharma and Rory Sabbatini. McDowell is three strokes behind England's Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot 65 to lead by a shot from Denmark's Joachim B Hansen.
"It's a fun golf course to play," said McDowell. "I think it plays into sort of my type of game. [I'm] forward to being in contention this weekend."
Peter Malnati set the early pace on 10-under in the weather-delayed Houston Open where Waterford's Seamus Power was seventh overnight after a 67.
Meanwhile, Gavin Moynihan carded a bogey-free 67 to trail Emilio Cuartero Blanco by just two shots at halfway in the Stone Irish Challenge at Headfort.
He's tied for third on seven-under-par with Cormac Sharvin lurking a shot further back in sixth after a second successive 69 as ten of the 15 Irish made the two-over cut. Sharvin has all but secured one of 15 European Tour cards via the Challenge Tour rankings.
At the first stage of European Tour Qualifying School, Galway amateur Ronan Mullarney was two-under with two holes to go in his fog-delayed third round at Bom Sucesso in Portugal.
He was just inside the crucial top 20 and tied on level par with Brendan McCarroll five shots outside the projected qualifying mark after a 72.