A 40-minute fog delay did not prevent another day of strong scores at the DP World Tour’s $6 million Horizon Irish Open where England’s Jordan Smith and India’s Shubhankar Sharma finished round two on top of the leaderboard on identical 13 under par 131.
With preferred lies in operation for the second consecutive day after a wet summer in Co. Kildare, Ireland, first-round leader Sharma, who was a late starter on day one with a 65, opened up early on Friday morning with a seven birdie 28 over the front nine. He came home in 38 for a six-under 66.
Co-leader Smith strung together eight birdies before a double on hole 17. Somerset-born Smith, 30, proceeded to wrap up his round with his ninth birdie on the home hole for a 65.
After his round, the 278-year-old Sharma said: “I took a four-week break after the Open and was sick last week so spent most of the weekend sleeping on my couch, but I still have good memories from the Open so I am just trying to continue that form.”
One of the home favourites is Irishman Shane Lowry who shot his second consecutive 68 to be eight under par in the ninth spot. As many as 45 players are within nine shots of the current leaders.
Dubai-based 30-year-old Adrian Meronk followed up his first round of 69 with a four birdie, two bogey 70 to be five under. The Pole, who is defending his title at the K Club event, was tied in 25th place with a few players still on the course at the time of writing.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was again out of sorts, hitting only five fairways in round two and shooting a second-round 71. His round looked like coming alive with a holed third shot for an eagle three on 16 which was followed by a double – birdie finish for a 70 to finish alongside playing partner Meronk.
McIlroy’s putter was pretty cold and did not help his cause, but he said: “I thought I played a little better today from tee to green.
“I just didn’t hole anything. I hit good putts. I just was misreading them. So a little bit of speed control issues rather than anything technical.”
The third player in the group, Billy Horschel (USA), followed up his opening 69 with a level par 72 to make the likely cut on three under.
The cut looks like falling on two under par with 86 players currently in the field on that mark for the weekend.
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Outside the cut mark on one under came Adam Scott (Aus) and on level par Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) as well as Thomas Bjorn (Den) who shot a disappointing 77 to miss the cut by one shot.
The 2023 Horizon Irish Open is supported by Dubai Duty Free and Emirates Airline.