Shane Lowry knows he must continue to knock down pins this weekend after he fired a seven-under 65 to get to within five shots of the lead on the Turkish Airlines Open.
Having struggled on the greens to shoot an opening 72 at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, the Open champion hit the ball so well yesterday that he birdied all five par-fives in an eight-birdie round and moved up 27 places to tied 25th, just five strokes behind Austria’s Matthias Schwab on seven-under par.
“I can’t remember the last time I shot a 65 and was disappointed with myself,” Lowry said after a ball-striking clinic that saw him miss two eagle putts but erase a lone bogey with eight birdies.
“I played lovely. I had two very good eagle chances, missed those, and made birdies on the others as well. It was one of those days where I got the number and only had eyes for the flag. I felt good out there today.
“It is perfect weather for golf, it is pretty easy out there and the scoring shows you that. I will need another one or two of those if I am to contend the next few days.”
After his putting struggles on Thursday, he left himself a 25 footer for par at his opening hole but rolled it home and celebrated á la Miguel Angel Jiménez by sheathing his putter like a sword.
“That was a good start to the round,” Lowry said. “You sometimes forget about stuff like that but it was nice to roll that in and I kicked on from there afterwards. I felt like I was hitting the fairways, hitting my targets with my second shots. When I had a good number I was able to get straight at the flag. It was one of those days. It was nice.”
Having complained about the greens on the first day, Lowry admitted it was a question of trust and he had more yesterday and took advantage of some excellent play from tee to green.
He might have shot eight or nine-under with ease but he was pleased to make a positive move up the leaderboard.
After getting up and down for birdie at the par-five 11th, he hit an eight iron to eight feet at 12th, then got up and down from the front bunker at the par-five 13th to move swiftly to three under, Chances slipped by at the 14th, 15th and 16th and while he was annoyed to clip a tree and bogey the 17th attempting a recovery from the trees, he quickly made amends with some sensational iron play.
He might have eagled both the 18th and the first after a 240-yard three-iron to 20 feet and a 267-yard five wood to eight feet. But while he missed both putts, he was now four-under and motoring, Another stunning three-iron to the heart of the fourth set up a two-putt birdie and after watching playing partner Pablo Larrazábal hole a five-iron from 219 yards for a hole-in-one at the fifth, he hit an eight iron stiff at the sixth and rolled in a 15 footer at the seventh before narrowly missing from eight feet for a 64 at the ninth.
Lowry might be just five shots off the lead but he knows he may need two more 65s to contend after Schwab (24) followed his opening 65 with a 67 to lead by one stroke on 12-under par from Danny Willett, Ross Fisher, Thomas Detry and Alex Noren.
Defending champion Justin Rose is lurking alongside the likes of Scottish rookie Robert MacIntyre (63) on 10-under after a second successive 67 kept his hopes of a third successive Turkish Airlines Open win alive.
Pádraig Harrington also had a good day on the course, closing with a birdie at the ninth for a bogey-free, six-under 66 that left him 45th on three-under.
“I am happy with my score and the way I played but to be honest, if I had of shot five-under I would have been very disappointed,” Harrington said. “So to birdie the last makes it a bit more palatable.”
At the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca, Cormac Sharvin had a second round 71 to lie on two-over-par overall in a tie for 16th place. Francesco Laporta leads on five under par.