Shane Lowry was still the man to catch at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after following up Wednesday’s course record-equaling 62 with a battling 70.
After a rocky start to his second round, three-time European Tour winner Lowry found the form that helped him match Henrik Stenson’s 13-year-old record on day one at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, bouncing back from two early bogeys with four birdies to get to 12 under par.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne were a single shot behind Lowry in a tie for second after posting second-round 68s.
Early clubhouse leader Lee Westwood was in fourth place on 10 under, with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Englishmen Ian Poulter and Tom Lewis another stroke further back.
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Tommy Fleetwood held his nerve to fire the birdie he needed at the 18th to make the cut.
Irishman Lowry said: “I’m really happy with that. I knew today was going to be a bit of a weird day after shooting such a low score yesterday.
“I just tried to go out and play like I played. To be honest, right from the start, I really feel like I played pretty well today. I think I gave myself a lot of chances.
“Some of the shots early on were pretty horrendous. I battled back and hit some really nice shots out there and hit some in close and made some birdies. I was happy with myself.”
Oosthuizen added: “Trying to win any event and going into the weekend really close, it’s always exciting. I try and get my game so that I try and compete every week or at least top 30 every week.
“But yeah, you have some weeks where you struggle where that’s difficult, but other weeks it seems easy to make a top ten. So you just need to go through all those emotions and just keep on plugging.”
Compatriot Sterne said: “It’s been a while since I’ve been at the top. Listen, there’s a long way to go, 36 holes, and some really tough players up there and top players. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully get off to a good start tomorrow and a decent weekend.”
Southport native Fleetwood came into the tournament looking to make it three titles in a row after claiming the title in both 2017 and 2018.
But after struggling for the first half of the event, he is just happy to still be in contention.
“It was nice to get one in. My putting was pretty awful today,” said the Team Europe Ryder Cup star.
“I just struggled on the greens. The things that I wanted to do better from yesterday, I did, but just a couple of short ones missed and then just holed nothing at any makeable range.
“But you can’t stress enough the importance of just making cuts anyway in professional golf. That’s the game. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Making cuts is great, and I’m very happy that I’ve gotten another two days of golf.”
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