Aaron Rai leads Irish Open golf as Shane Lowry among early exits

 Ireland's Shane Lowry walks off the 18th green after completing his round in the fading light on day two of The Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena on Friday September 25, 2020. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

England's Aaron Rai carded a level par 70 to take the clubhouse lead at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, where play was suspended overnight due to darkness following a morning frost delay on day two at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

Nine groups will return on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds but Englishman Rai will have the benefit of a lie-in after he finished his round early on Friday.

It was a disappointing day for the home challenge.

Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington signed for a five-over-par 75 and a six over total which sits one stroke outside of the cut mark, while Shane Lowry's second round 72 and seven over total meant he would not be at Galgorm for the weekend.

“I struggled this week, the distance control, how short the ball was going in this cold. I just really struggled.

''I’m very disappointed to be going home and I hate missing the cut at the Irish Open and I want to be here for the weekend,” said Shane.

“It’s not great for the tournament that myself and Padraig are going home. That’s disappointing for everyone involved but I came up here and gave it my best shot and I did what I did and that’s all I could do.

“The unfamiliarity probably cost me, but regardless of whether you’ve seen the greens or seen this course before there are no real excuses for putting how I putted yesterday.

"But yes, it didn’t help not knowing the golf course, especially this golf course. There are a lot of doglegs and crosswinds and even little things like going from hole to hole, the cross-winds change direction and it’s just hard to gauge the wind.”

The leading Irishman is amateur James Sugrue who is tied for 20th on level par with two holes of his second round remaining.

PGA professional, Colm Moriarty, made the cut after adding a 69 to his opening 75.

Amateur Mark Power looks to have secured his place in the weekend on the five over number while out on the course, Jonathan Caldwell and Damien McGrane are still battling to make the cut.

Unfortunately, Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne, Cormac Sharvin and amateur Tom McKibbin all missed out.

“It is a pity, going to be one too many by the looks of it. I played a lot better, 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 three-time major champion Harrington.

“I’m not going to get down on it. It is one week, I quite enjoyed playing, I saw some nice things in my game, and I know exactly what I need to do.

“I did some good stuff at times and I will always take positives from it.

''My short game was poor, which is normally my strength, and that can be expected from not being out playing. I second-guessed myself a few times on a few shots and that is the sort of thing that goes away when you don’t play.”


Ireland's Padraig Harrington tees off the 10th during day two of The Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena on Friday September 25, 2020.
Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire. 


Rai whose maiden victory came at the 2018 Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi, birdied the last for a level par 70 and a five under total.

That moved him one stroke clear of Robert Rock, Dean Burmester and Joakim Lagergren – a former winner of the NI Open - on four under.

“It was a bit of a mixed bag out there but I think it is to be expected, the course played so tough,” said Rai.

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

''I have had a lot of shots out of the fairway which can then give you a couple of chances to certain pins, and when I have had chances I have made a few putts as well.

“Also when I have been out of position, I have got up-and-down a few times, so it is just a couple of shots being saved here and there coming into the weekend.”

Tom McKibbon found himself playing in a two-ball alongside Australian Scott Hend after the third member of the group, Sebastian Soderberg, was withdrawn after he was notified of a contact who has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

The notification was received on Thursday evening after Sebastian had completed his first round, and identified from before he entered the tournament bubble at the Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

Soderberg tested negative on-site at Galgorm but was withdrawn from the tournament as a precaution following consultation with Public Health Agency.


England's Aaron Rai putts on the ninth green during day two of The Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena on Friday September 25, 2020.
Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire.



Latest second round scores in the European Tour Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena, Northern Ireland

28 players still to finish round 2.

(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 70):

(a) denotes amateurs

135 Aaron Rai 65 70

136 Dean Burmester (Rsa) 65 71, Robert Rock 69 67, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 70 66

137 Justin Harding (Rsa) 68 69, Scott Hend (Aus) 68 69, John Catlin (USA) 67 70, Ewan Ferguson 70 67

138 David Law 69 69, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 68 70, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 71 67

139 Daan Huizing (Ned) 70 69, Sean Crocker (USA) 72 67

140 Marcus Armitage 69 71, Clement Sordet (Fra) 70 70, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 71 69, Calum Hill 70 70, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 71, Oliver Farr 70 70

141 Stephen Gallacher 67 74, Joost Luiten (Ned) 71 70, James Morrison 72 69

142 Adri Arnaus (Spa) 73 69, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 74, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 68 74, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 70 72, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 70 72, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 67 75, Lars Van Meijel (Ned) 71 71

143 Dale Whitnell 71 72, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 72, Jack Senior 70 73, Martin Simonsen (Den) 68 75

144 Craig Howie 73 71, Colm Moriarty 75 69, Joel Stalter (Fra) 74 70, Garrick Porteous 73 71, Mathieu Fenasse (Fra) 72 72, George Coetzee (Rsa) 71 73, Matthew Southgate 74 70, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 72 72, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 72 72, Ross McGowan 73 71

145 Steven Brown 71 74, Richie Ramsay 71 74, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 73 72, Max Schmitt (Ger) 73 72, Ben Stow 70 75, Romain Wattel (Fra) 74 71, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 73 72, Mark Power 74 71, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 74 71, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 75 70

146 Damien Perrier (Fra) 71 75, Kristoffer Reitan (Nor) 72 74, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 73 73, Ashun Wu (Chn) 76 70, Ashley Chesters 79 67, Tyler Koivisto (USA) 73 73, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 73 73, Graeme Storm 70 76, Jeff Winther (Den) 77 69, Padraig Harrington 71 75

147 Julian Suri (USA) 71 76, David Drysdale 73 74, Michael Campbell (Nzl) 75 72, Shane Lowry 75 72, Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 68 79, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 74 73, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 74 73

148 Wade Ormsby (Aus) 70 78

149 David Howell 72 77, Paul Dunne 75 74, Connor Syme 71 78, David Horsey 76 73

150 Zach Murray (Aus) 74 76, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 72 78

151 Gavin Moynihan 74 77, (a) Tom McKibbon 73 78, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 78 73

152 Marc Warren 74 78, Daniel Young 75 77

153 Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Spa) 78 75, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 75 78, Min Woo Lee (Aus) 75 78

154 Robin Roussel (Fra) 75 79

155 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 75 80, Oliver Fisher 78 77

156 Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 74 82

157 Cormac Sharvin 83 74

159 Andrea Pavan (Ita) 83 76

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