Shane Lowry. Photo by Golffile
Shane Lowry powered his way around the course at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal. After a disappointing 72 yesterday, Lowry dropped eight birdies, with just the one blemish on the par 4, 17th, leaving him on seven under for the day and tied for 25th place.
“I can’t remember the last time I shot a 65 and was disappointed with myself to be honest,” Lowry said.“I played lovely out there and gave myself a lot of chances, a couple of eagle chances, probably could have holed one or two. But I played lovely today and I’m very happy.
“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.”
“I thought the greens were a lot nicer this morning. Look it was more of a mental thing, I struggle to trust it when the greens are not rolling as good as you would like and that’s what happened to me yesterday. I missed a couple early on and just struggled with it from then on.”
Padraig Harrington turned the clock back with a six under par 66 to leave him three-under par for the tournament and tied for 45th place.
“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 so to birdie the last makes it a bit more palatable,” Harrington said.
“I didn’t drive it well again today and struggled off the tee but I hit every green in regulation and pretty much every hole I had a good chance of a birdie, so a six-under return was okay and it could have been better but as I said, I didn’t drive it well so it’s a bit of an improvement.
“I hit a lot of good putts today that could have gone in, so it could have been a really, really low one and clearly now I would settle for a couple of 66s, as well over the weekend.
“But I am not exactly buzzing with confidence as my driving isn’t so good and short and crooked is not great, so I will work on that the next two days.”
Matthias Schwab birdied the last to take a one shot lead heading into the weekend.
The Austrian entered day two at the sixth Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai in a share of the lead and he was in a five way logjam at 11 under stood on the last tee at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
He recovered from a poor tee shot to make a fourth gain of the back nine and sign for a 67 to edge one ahead of two time Rolex Series winners Alex Noren and Danny Willett, Belgian Thomas Detry and England's Ross Fisher.
Scot Robert MacIntyre carded a brilliant bogey free 63 to sit two off the lead alongside two time defending champion Justin Rose, South African Justin Harding, American David Lipksy and Australia's Jason Scrivener.
Schwab eagled the first but for a long time it looked like Noren - searching for a first top ten of the season - would hold the 36 hole lead before a bogey on the last saw the Swede sign for a 67.
Fisher carded a stunning 64 to rocket up the leaderboard while fellow Englishman Willett and Detry both recorded rounds of 66.
Matthias Schwab. Photo by Golffile
Schwab has nine top tens so far this season, including two top fives in his last three events at the Italian Open - his best finish in a Rolex Series event - and on debut at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
"I think I scored well today," he said. "I wasn't really hitting them great at all, especially early on, but I kept it together. I think I'll have to play aggressive golf and keep the foot on the gas pedal, pars will definitely not be enough this weekend."
The 24-year-old had fallen one shot behind a fast starting Kurt Kitayama when he teed off but he put an incredible second to eight feet on the par five first for an opening eagle to reclaim the lead at nine under.
Noren could not take advantage of the first but he almost made an ace on the second and then holed from 18 feet on the next.
A two putt birdie on the fourth had him in a share of the lead and when he played a wonderful second from the rough to ten feet at the sixth, he was the first player of the week into double figures.
Schwab then bogeyed the fifth but Willett made a big move to nine under. The 2016 Masters Tournament winner sandwiched birdies on the first and fourth with a nice approach to the third and holed from seven feet on the seventh.
MacIntyre turned in 34 on the scoreable back nine but then made three birdies in a row from the first. A long putt on the fifth edged him closer and a six footer at the next had him at nine under.
Noren put a stunning approach to the ninth inside three feet to lead by two but the group at nine under continued to swell, as Detry had birdies on the first, second, fourth, ninth and tenth to go with a bogey on the eighth.
Noren made seven birdies to start the back nine and that allowed the pack to close in, with Fisher initially leading the charge.
The tournament invite birdied the first, third, fourth and sixth before dropping a shot on the next but added further gains on the 11th, 13th, 15th, 16th and last to join the lead.
Danny Willett. Photo by Golffile
Willett dropped a shot on the 12th but put his tee shot to eight feet at the 14th, holed from 12 feet on the next and got up and down from the sand to take advantage of the last.
Detry birdied all three of the par fives on the back nine but bogeyed the 12th and 15th, also holing a very long putt on the 14th to sit at 11 under.
Schwab almost aced the 16th but Noren edged back ahead with a 15 footer on the 17th before a second into thick stuff at the last resulted in a bogey and a five way tie.
Schwab also found trouble off the tee but he recovered brilliantly, hacking out and putting his third to tap-in range for that final gain.
Rose picked up three shots in his last five holes in a 67, with Harding carding a 65, Scrivener a 66 and Lipsky getting round in 68 blows.
Pablo Larrazábal made the 29th hole-in-one of the season as he sank a four iron from 219 yards at the fifth.