Irish Open: Antcliff joins Rai at top of leaderboard as Lowry and Harrington miss cut

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), M Antcliff (Aus); -4 R Rock (Eng), D Burmester (SA), J Lagergren (Swe), J Smith (Eng), T Tree (Eng); -3 S Hend (Aus), J Catlin (US), J Harding (SA), E Ferguson (Scot)
Selected others: -2 D Law (Scot), L Herbert (Aus), -1 J Sugrue (AM) (Ire) 16; +1 S Gallacher (Scot), J Caldwell (NI); +4 G Coetzee (SA), D McGrane (Ire), C Moriarty (Ire); +5 M Power (Ire) am; +6 P Harrington (Ire); +7 S Lowry (Ire)

Maverick Antcliff moved into a share of the Irish Open lead with Aaron Rai as he finished his second round at Galgorm on Saturday morning on five under.

The Australian, who fired a five-under-par 65, was among the players completing their rounds on Saturday after a weather delay on Friday.

Five players are one shot back but Open champion Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington missed the cut.

Amateur James Sugrue is the best of the home contingent on one under.

With frost delaying Friday's start, Englishman Rai's level-par 70 had left him in the lead at the end of Friday's play.

Rai and Antcliffe are one shot clear of Robert Rock, former Northern Ireland Open winner Joakim Lagergren, Dean Burmester, Toby Tree and Jordan Smith.

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 takes three shots from six feet

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 Friday's 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 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 six over par 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. The cut came at five over on Saturday morning.

Sugrue completed his round on Saturday to lead the Irish challenge - fellow home amateur international Mark Power made the cut on five over.

Clandeboye man Jonathan Caldwell is one over after a 73 while former European Tour winner Damien McGrane and Colm Moriarty finished four over.

The Irish casualties also included Paul Dunne (74 for nine over), amateur Tom McKibbin (78 for 11 over) and Cormac Sharvin (74 for 17 over).

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