Lowry happy to be in the hunt as he pur­sues ru­n­away leader Col­saerts

Of­faly man shows good form in a round of 66 to lie in fourth place

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - Philip Reid at Reg­num Carya

As the mes­meric call to prayer reg­u­larly em­anated from the mosque across the road­way by the third hole, another sound pro­vided its own so­lace for Shane Lowry as he ma­noeu­vred into con­tention in the sec­ond round of the Turk­ish Air­lines Open here at Reg­num Carya: it was of ball clat­ter­ing flag­pole, al­ways a good sign of a player’s po­tency, and also of crowds, even those rel­a­tively sparse by tour stan­dards but with great en­thu­si­asm, ap­plaud­ing birdies.

Lowry, as it hap­pened, had seven birdies in a sec­ond round of 66 which lifted him to a mid­way to­tal of eight-un­der-par 134 in a share of fourth. Al­though some six shots adrift of ru­n­away leader Ni­co­las Col­saerts of Bel­gium, events at last week’s HSBC Cham­pi­ons – where Justin Rose over­came an eight-shot fi­nal round deficit on Dustin John­son to tri­umph – will serve as in­spi­ra­tion to chasers such as Lowry and as cau­tion to some­one in Col­saerts’s po­si­tion.

That ball clat­ter­ing into the flag­stick hap­pened to Lowry on the 14th hole, an up­hill par 3 of 172 yards where his eight-iron scored a di­rect hit.

There would be no hole-in-one though, as the ball set­tled 18 inches from the pin for a tap-in birdie in a stretch of holes – from the 13th to the 17th – that yielded four birdies for the 30-year-old Of­faly man, who is on a mis­sion here to trans­form his sea­son from a dis­ap­point­ing one into a good one.

Lowry isn’t yet into the Race to Dubai fi­nale (the DP World) in a fort­night’s time, need­ing to jump into the top-60 on the or­der of merit af­ter next week’s Ned­bank, but his move here would in­di­cate stronger am­bi­tions that that as he chases a first tour­na­ment win since his WGC-Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional two years ago.

Chal­leng­ing po­si­tion

In a sea­son when he has had only fleet­ing times in con­tention (most no­tably at the BMW PGA in Went­worth back in May, when a drive out-of-bounds on the clos­ing stretch scup­pered his am­bi­tions), Lowry claimed to be “ex­cited” go­ing into the fi­nal two rounds in a chal­leng­ing po­si­tion.

How­ever, his im­me­di­ate post-round ac­tion was not to head to the din­ing area but in­stead to the prac­tice range to sort out what he viewed as some “ten­ta­tive” driv­ing com­ing home.

For a sec­ond day run­ning, he bo­geyed the 18th hole, but the other two way­ward drives pro­duced stun­ning saves and more. On the par-5 15th, af­ter driv­ing into the pine for­est, he sal­vaged a par; and on the 16th, he pro­duced a stun­ning re­cov­ery wedge shot of 148 yards from the rough up and over the pine trees to five feet for birdie.

Col­saerts may ap­pear to have grabbed the tour­na­ment by the scruff of the neck – the Bel­gian pro­duc­ing seven birdies in a bo­gey-free round, as he signed for suc­ces­sive 64s, to be four shots clear of Ed­die Pep­per­rell – but Lowry was un­fazed by be­ing cast in the role of pur­suer.

“There is noth­ing worse than play­ing th­ese big tour­na­ments, the ones with no cut, and be­ing down the back of the field and try­ing to bat­tle for 30th place all week­end. I am in a lovely po­si­tion and I know Ni­co­las is a good bit ahead but you never know what can hap­pen in golf.

“I know I am go­ing to have to go out there and keep do­ing what I am do­ing, but I do feel my head is in the right spot. I don’t think my game is 100 per cent, but my head is in the right spot and I am putting okay.

“Once I get the ball in play and once I hit fair­ways my iron play feels good. So I will keep hit­ting fair­ways and take it from there,” said Lowry.

The other two Ir­ish play­ers in the limited, no-cut field found them­selves locked to­gether in tied-13th place on five-un­der 137.

Paul Dunne had an un­usual fin­ish – hit­ting a “daisy­cut­ter” tee-shot that first hit the ground 110 be­fore its own speed pro­pelled it a fur­ther 160 yards to set up an eight-iron ap­proach – for a rare birdie on the dif­fi­cult 18th as he shot a sec­ond round 70, while Pádraig Har­ring­ton had a sec­ond round of 72 to join Dunne on that mark.

Glitch

Dunne was the last man on the range for the sec­ond night run­ning work­ing with his Grey­stones coach Karl Holmes to sort out a glitch.

“The club is just get­ting re­ally steep on the way back, but I am strug­gling to let the club go be­hind me with­out hav­ing any con­fi­dence of it tak­ing it to the course. I can do it on the range if I do it in slow mo­tion, and then if I try to put any speed on it I strug­gle again. Strug­gling with that, one of those things I will work at it and hope to find it even­tu­ally and hope­fully soon,” he ex­plained.

For Har­ring­ton, there was lit­tle of the flu­ency of his open­ing round.

“I need the good short game and the good long game to­gether. Both were out there today, just not at the same time,” said Har­ring­ton, who per­formed some mag­nif­i­cent es­capol­ogy (par­tic­u­larly his chip from be­side the pine trees on the sec­ond) early on, but then suf­fered back-to-back bo­geys on the 12th and 13th which he at­trib­uted to the glare of the sun on the face of a new lob wedge.

Iam­ina lovely po­si­tion . . . you never know what can hap­pen in golf

PHO­TO­GRAPH: WAR­REN LIT­TLE/GETTY IMAGES

Shane Lowry tees off on the 11th hole dur­ing the sec­ond round of the Turk­ish Air­lines Open at the Reg­num Carya Golf & Spa Re­sort.

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