It was quickly all change at the top when the 3 Irish Open resumed in Killarney today – overnight leader David Howell double-bogeyed the first hole and 2004 winner Brett Rumford birdied the first two to take over.
Howell, the former Ryder Cup ace who has now dropped to 479th in the world, pushed his opening tee shot into the hazard on the edge of Lough Leane, chipped out sideways and then three-putted for a six that sent him down to five under.
Australian Rumford, on the other hand, teed off again in joint fourth place, but a pair of threes lifted him to seven under and ahead of compatriot Richard Green, Dane Anders Hansen, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Korean Noh Seung-yul – and Howell as well when he came back with a birdie at the long seventh.
Padraig Harrington remained three under after four more holes – he had yet to record a bogey, but knew he needed to up the birdie tally – while playing partner and US Open champion Graeme McDowell was in a battle to avoid the halfway cut after he bogeyed the short third and went down to level par.
Damien McGrane, playing with the two Irish stars and going much the best of the three, was part of the group on six under until he bogeyed the fourth.
He joins Michael Hoey and Darren Clarke at five under.