Shane Lowry will carry Irish hopes into the weekend at the 148th Open Championship.
With tournament favorite Rory McIlroy missing the cut and the other Irishmen well down the leaderboard, Lowry (pictured) posted a second 5-under-par 67 and is tied for the lead with J.B. Holmes after two rounds on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club https://www.royalportrushgolfclub.com in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
“I knew there was some weather coming in during the afternoon, so it was important to get off to a good start on the first 7-8-9 holes,” said Lowry, who has won four times as a pro. “I got off to a hot start with birdies on the first three holes and felt great the rest of the day. This golf course is about leaving yourself in the right place all the way around.
“These were an incredible first two days. The crowds are unbelievable and to be cheered on every tee box and every green is such a special feeling. I tried to enjoy that as much as I can while I was doing my work and then getting down to business.
“It’s going to be an exciting few days ahead. I hope I can give them something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon.”
Lowry birdied six of the first 10 holes before cooling with two bogeys coming home, but is tied atop the leaderboard at 8-under 134.
Holmes, who held the first-round lead at 66, followed that with a solid 68 and is playing his best golf since claiming his fifth PGA Tour victory early this year in the Genesis Open at Riviera.
“I played great that one tournament, had a win,” said Holmes, who doesn’t have a top-10 finish since he claimed his fifth victory on the PGA Tour. “You take that away, it’s probably actually been one of my worst years I’ve played.
“I’ve really struggled with my swing kind of after I won. At Detroit (in the Rocket Mortgage Classic) I had been working on it and it clicked in there and I started hitting it better. I’ve been practicing the last couple of weeks. I’ve been playing great. So actually I felt great coming in. Like I said, my results didn’t show that. But I felt very confident coming in. I was hitting it great. Putted well.”
Englishmen Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood, who both had four birdies on the back nine, each shot 67 and are one stroke back in a tie for third, while Cameron Smith of Australia totaled 66 and is two behind in a tie for fifth with Justin Harding of South Africa, who eagled the seventh hole en route to a 65, and fourth-ranked Justin Rose of England, who wound up at 67 with at eagle at No. 12.
Jordan Spieth, who won the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale, carded a 67 with an eagle on No. 7 and is one more down in a tie for eighth with top-ranked Brooks Koepka, who had a 69, Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine, who shot 68, and Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, who was tied for the lead until a double bogey-bogey finish in a 69.
Eighth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain bounced back from a double-bogey 7 on the second hole to post a 70 and is tied for 12th, second-ranked Dustin Johnson is tied for 18th after a 67, while ninth-ranked Justin Thomas totaled 70 and is in a tie 32nd that includes 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who had a 71.
Defending champion and seventh-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy finished at 69 to make the cut on the number, but three others in the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings didn’t make it to the weekend.
Third-ranked McIlroy, playing 60 miles from his hometown of Holywood, bounced back from an opening 79 with a 65 but missed the cut by one stroke, sixth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis shot 63 to miss by four, and fifth-ranked Tiger Woods totaled 70 and fall short by seven shots.
Woods and Phil Mickelson, who had a 74 to miss by eight, missed the cut together for the first time in the 83 majors they have both played in their storied careers.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html