Smith and Sharma share lead at Irish Open as McIlroy struggles

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Rory McIlroy hit four birdies, an eagle, a bogey, and a double bogey in a mixed second round; Shane Lowry sits in ninth place while Jordan Smith and Shubhankar Sharma lead the way;Watch the Irish Open live this week on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 08/09/23 8:13pm

Highlights from the second round of the Irish Open at The K Club.

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Highlights from the second round of the Irish Open at The K Club.

Highlights from the second round of the Irish Open at The K Club.

​​​​​​​Shubhankar Sharma and Jordan Smith shared the halfway lead at the Horizon Irish Open on Friday as Rory McIlroy struggled to mount a bid to win his home event for the second time.

Sharma shot six-under 66 and Smith followed with a 65 as they finished the second round at The K Club on 13 under for the tournament, one shot ahead of Ross Fisher (66).

Smith, the world No 85, was the only player in the top eight ranked inside the top 100, with the leading names in the field needing a big weekend to get into contention.

Jordan Smith is leading the way along with Shubhankar Sharma after the second round

Jordan Smith is leading the way along with Shubhankar Sharma after the second round

Shane Lowry, who was born about 45 minutes away in Clara, was alone in ninth place after a second straight 68 while McIlroy shot 70 to lie eight off the lead on five-under par after a mixed end to his round.

The 2016 champion and No 2 ranked player holed out for eagle from 116 yards at the 16th, only to follow that up with a double-bogey at the 17th after finding the rough off the tee and his second shot and missing a bogey putt from four feet.

Rory McIlroy's mixed round at the Irish Open continued when he made an eagle at the par-5 16th hole before double bogeying the 17th hole, ending the day with a two-under-par 70 at the K Club.

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Rory McIlroy’s mixed round at the Irish Open continued when he made an eagle at the par-5 16th hole before double bogeying the 17th hole, ending the day with a two-under-par 70 at the K Club.

Rory McIlroy’s mixed round at the Irish Open continued when he made an eagle at the par-5 16th hole before double bogeying the 17th hole, ending the day with a two-under-par 70 at the K Club.

He then got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a birdie at the last.

McIlroy was tied for 26th place and in a group including Adrian Meronk, the defending champion from Poland who also shot 70.

“I’m trying to think of the last time I made a double bogey, it’s been a few months and I’ve prided myself on really limiting my mistakes,” McIlroy said.

“That was one that obviously got away from me and I need a good one tomorrow to get myself back into it. There’s low scores to be had on this golf course, especially with how the conditions are.”

Sharma, who tied for eighth at The Open at Hoylake either side of four straight missed cuts on regular European tour events, briefly had a six-shot lead on 14 under after racing to the turn in just 28 shots with seven birdies and two pars.

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The Indian could only cover the last seven holes in one over, then saw Smith, an afternoon starter, reel him in.

The most recent of Sharma’s two European tour wins came in February 2018.

“I took a four-week break after The Open and was sick last week so spent most of the weekend sleeping on my couch, but I still have good memories from the Open, so I am just trying to continue that form,” Sharma said.

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