Irish Open: England's Aaron Rai leads as Shane Lowry misses cut with Padraig Harrington also set to exit

Aaron Rai's only previous European Tour win came in the 2018 Hong Kong Open
Aaron Rai battled well on a tough scoring day at Galgorm Castle to add a level-par 70 to his opening 65
Irish Open second-round leaderboard
-5 A Rai (Eng); -4 R Rock (Eng), D Burmester (SA), J Lagergren (Swe); -3 S Hend (Aus), J Catlin (US), J Harding (SA), E Ferguson (Scot), J Smith (Eng) 15 holes, T Tree (Eng) 14, M Antcliff (Aus) 10
Selected others: -2 D Law (Scot), L Herbert (Aus), Level J Sugrue (AM) (Ire) 16; +1 S Gallacher (Scot); +2 J Caldwell (NI) 10, D McGrane (Ire) 13; +4 G Coetzee (SA), C Moriarty (Ire); +5 M Power (Ire) am; +6 P Harrington (Ire); +7 S Lowry (Ire)

England's Aaron Rai leads the Irish Open by one shot as Shane Lowry missed the cut with Padraig Harrington also set to exit when the second round is completed on Saturday morning.

With frost delaying Friday's start, Rai's level-par 70 kept him on his overnight total on five under.

That left the world 254 one ahead of a trio including compatriot Robert Rock.

Lowry is certain to exit after a 72 left him on seven over with Padraig Harrington set to miss out on six over.

Harrington was left to rue a bogey at the par-five last where his 10-foot par-putt horseshoed out after he had missed the fairway and also found the rough with his second and third shots.

As the second round was suspended, the three-time major winner was sharing 74th place and needing an unlikely series of events early on Saturday morning to survive.

Shane Lowry attempts to chop out of the trees at the third on Friday
Shane Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009

Lowry suffers three putt from six feet on 10

Open Champion Lowry's miserable day was summed up by a three putt from six feet on the 10th as a possible momentum-generating birdie was instead turned into a bogey.

A further dropped shot at the 13th left him on eight over and while his first birdie on the day came at the next, he was unable to summon up any heroics in his closing four holes as he rushed to complete his second round in the gathering darkness.

Wolverhampton-born Rai, 25, was one of only two players to card bogey-free opening rounds and regrouped well from an immediate dropped shot on Friday to card four birdies on a tough day for scoring as a north wind continued to blow after the sheet of overnight frost had delayed the start by 90 minutes.

"A bit of a mixed bag out there but I think it is to be expected, the course played so tough," said Rai, whose only previous European Tour win came at the Hong Kong Open in 2018.

"Driving it is key around here, with how thick the rough is, and I think for most part I have driven it well the last few days."

Rock carded arguably the round of the day as his 67 in the toughest of the conditions included only one dropped shot which came at the sixth.

He was joined on four under by Swede Joakim Lagergren, a Northern Ireland Open winner at the venue in 2014, who fired a 66 on Friday with South African Dean Burmester remaining in contention as he added a 71 to his opening 65.

'I played a lot better than the score'

Europe Ryder Cup captain Harrington, playing his first event since February, looked thoroughly deflated after acknowledging that his total was "going to be one too many" although he attempted to "take positives" from his brief week.

"I didn't take my chances early on and then got some swirling winds and didn't chip very well, so I played a lot better than the score but these things happen," said the 49-year-old after his seven-bogey round.

As played was halted on, James Sugrue, who won last year's British Amateur title, was the leading Irishman on level-par after 16 after slipping back from his overnight position of three under while fellow Irish amateur international Mark Power was also certain to make the weekend after a 71 left him on five over.

Former European Tour winner Damien McGrane and Clandeboye man Jonathan Caldwell were both in position to play the final two rounds as they stood on two over after 13 and 10 holes respectively.

Colm Moriarty's weekend birth was safe as a battling 69 left him on four over while but the Irish casualties included Paul Dunne (74 for nine over), amateur Tom McKibbin (78 for 11 over) and Cormac Sharvin (74 for 17 over).

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport