Irish Open: Rory McIlroy eight shots adrift as Shubhankar Sharma and Jordan Smith share lead

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-13 S Sharma (Ind), J Smith (Eng); -12 R Fisher (Eng); -11 H Long (Ger); -10 C Hill (Sco); -9 G Miglozzi (Ita), S Jamieson (Sco), F Schott (Ger); -8 S Lowry (Ire)
Selected others: -5 A Meronk (Pol), R McIlroy (NI), M Power (Ire); -4 L Donald (Eng); -2 T McKibbin (NI), P Harrington (Ire)

Rory McIlroy is well adrift of the leaders after round two of the Irish Open in Kildare, trailing Jordan Smith and Shubhankar Sharma by eight shots.

McIlroy followed up his opening 70 at the K Club by carding a 69 on Friday to lie five under par for the tournament.

First-round leader Sharma posted a second-round 66, with England’s Smith shooting an impressive 65.

Shane Lowry fired a second successive 68 to lie eight under as he aims for a first top-10 finish since February.

Currently lying in ninth spot, the 2019 Open champion is hoping to find some consistent form after being named in the Europe Ryder Cup team to face the United States in Rome at the end of September.

The Offaly man recorded six birdies and two bogeys in his second 18 holes.

Ross Fisher is one off the lead on 12 under, with German Hurly Long 11 under and Scotland’s Calum Hill a further shot in arrears.

McIlroy picked up shots at the fourth and 12th holes, with the solitary blemish on his scorecard on the front nine being a bogey at the par-three eighth after he dunked his iron shot into the water.

The world number two holed a pitch shot from around 120 yards for an eagle at the 16th, then dropped two shots at the 17th, before recovering to finish with a birdie on 18.

McIlroy skewed his drive to the right at the penultimate hole and then missed a two-foot putt for bogey.

The four-time major winner was the victor when the event was last played at the K Club in 2016 but missed a lot of fairways on Friday as he regularly had to scramble for pars in an often scrappy round.

‘This course is there for the taking’

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy suffered from an occasional waywardness off the tee

“I felt, if anything, I hit the ball a little better from tee to green, I just couldn’t get a putt to drop,” said McIlroy after his round.

“It was nice to have that highlight on 16 and birdie the last as well.

“You get yourself out of position off the tee here, then you make life difficult for yourself. I need to tidy that up a little bit over the weekend.

“With the four par fives, it’s the kind of golf course if you get it going, and the number of wedges you have in your hand for second shots, you can certainly go low, as people have proven over the last few days.

“I need to go out on Saturday and shoot a low one to get myself back in the tournament. I need to take advantage of those par fives. Once I get the ball in play off the tee, this course is there for the taking.”

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma
Shubhankar Sharma of India is co-leader after the second round in Kildare

World-ranked 85 Smith recorded nine birdies, with just a double bogey at the 16th marring his round.

Sharma, from India, is a further 98 places behind his co-leader in the global standings, but sits well placed after another impressive score, which included eight birdies and two dropped shots.

Last year’s Irish Open winner, Adrian Meronk, is one of the players who joins McIlroy in tying for 26th place on five under, while Europe Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is one shot worse off.

Freddy Schott from Germany registered the lowest round of the day with an eight-under 64 to move into contention in joint sixth on nine under.

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