Round 2 of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open got underway early this morning and it was anything but predictable. The leaderboard after round 2 is vastly different than it was after round 1, and with so many players gunning for top spots, rounds 3 and 4 are not to be missed.
Englishman Dale Whitnell topped the leaderboard initially, matching yesterdays score of 5 under 67. His eagle on 10 was the highlight of his already stellar round, the 32 year old is yet to claim a win on the European but that could change come Sunday if he maintains this consistency. However, it wasn’t long until Australian Lucas Herbert clawed back to reclaim his top spot. Despite his double bogey on hole 3, Herbert managed to pull off 7 birdies throughout his round to regather the tournament lead at 13 under par.
The cut line of 3 under claimed 12 Irish players including Irish Open legend Padraic Harrington, Proving how high the standard really is for the tournament. One player who was crafty enough to avoid the cut was Graeme McDowell, who shot a bogey-free 5 under 67 to bring him just above the cut line.
Rory McIlroy shook off all the uncertainty felt throughout round 1 carding a tidy 5 under 67, Rory’s putting and wedge game had vastly improved since yesterday. Although McIlroy is facing some very in-form players high up on the leaderboard, Rory often plays his best on the weekends. The only question is will his best this weekend be good enough to move into contention?
McIlroy’s playing partner Tommy Fleetwood suffered some mild disappointment as he slipped quickly down the leaderboard. With 1 bogey and only 3 birdies after 17 holes, it was a double bogey on 18 that hurt Fleetwood’s tournament standing the most. The 2019 Open Championship runner-up will have to pull something out of the bag tomorrow if he wants to remain competitive for the rest of the tournament.
English duo of Andy Sullivan and Richard Bland both put together stellar rounds landing them within the top 5 going into moving day. Sullivan’s eagle on hole 5 helped him score a neat 6 under 66, while Bland also shot one of the lowest scores of the round matching Sullivan’s 66.
The Irishman in best shape going into round two was undoubtedly Shane Lowry. Despite beginning his second round sitting at T57, back-to-back birdies on holes 3 and 4 allowed him to cruse smoothly up the leaderboard. However, that cruse would be abruptly halted by bogeys on 6 and 10 as Lowry struggled to find fairways and greens in regulation. A cool 3 under 69 places Lowry at 34th on the leaderboard, although he may not be a favourite to win going into round three, few would bet against the come-back abilities of this Offaly man.
The names to watch going into round three can only be Forrest Grant, who is currently T2 on the leaderboard. Grant also made an eagle on hole 5 in round 2 and has already carded a whopping 12 birdies so far in the tournament, the Scot is without a doubt one to keep an eye on. Also one to watch is South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, currently sitting at T5, The remarkably consistent 27 year old has a superb ability to scramble and is in a perfect position for contention come Sunday.
Have a look at the top spots on the leaderboard after round 2 here: