Ireland’s Shane Lowry shot a four-under par 67 to claim a share of the lead with JB Holmes at the British Open as 15-time major winner Tiger Woods and pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy missed the cut on Friday.
Resuming on four-under, Lowry birdied four of the opening five holes and picked up another two shots on eight and 10. However, he bogeyed the 14th and 18th coming home to fall back level with overnight leader Holmes on eight-under.
“There’s not too many days like that on the golf course,” said Lowry.
Holmes consolidated his challenge with a three-under round on Friday.
“You can have that great round and that day where everything goes right, but it’s nice to get two rounds in a row. It shows a little consistency,” said the American.
McIlroy fell just short with a brave attempt to make the weekend after a horrendous eight-over round on Thursday left him with a huge mountain the climb.
The home favourite posted the joint best round of the day with a six-under 65 to get back to two-over, but missed out by just one shot with the cut at one-over.
“I felt today I showed the real Rory McIlroy and the golf that I can play,” said the world No 3. “I tried my best for them until the very end. I just came up a little short.”
Woods was also made to pay for his 78 on Thursday as a one-under par round left the Masters champion still on six-over.
“It’s more frustrating than anything else because this is a major championship and I love playing in these events,” said Woods.
The American raised hopes that he could recover from a difficult opening round with his troublesome back restricting his movement in cold conditions.
Woods was two under for the day after six holes, but a bogey at the seventh stalled his fightback.
Back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 gave Woods hope again but a bogey-bogey finish was a fitting end to a frustrating two days for the 43-year-old.
English trio in contention
England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are just one shot off the lead on seven-under, while world No 1 Brooks Koepka also kept himself in the hunt for a fifth major on five-under.
Fleetwood played a starring role in Europe’s victory at the Ryder Cup last year and the world number 20 has a chance for his first major heading into the weekend as he birdied the last for a round of 67.
Westwood rolled back the years with four birdies on the back nine to shoot into contention with a 67.
Playing in his 25th British Open, Westwood has finished in the top three at majors nine times without getting over the line.
“It’s nice to do it at The Open Championship, it’s a big tournament and prestigious tournament and on a great golf course,” said the former world number one.
Justin Rose is another Englishman in the mix as an eagle on the 12th moved the world number four to six-under.
Koepka has not finished outside the top two in all three majors so far this season and the American is dangerously poised after another solid round of 69.
But the PGA champion was left frustrated he has not hit the front yet due to his putting.
“I haven’t made a putt all week, so I just need to figure that out,” he said. “If I can just make some putts I could have very easily been 10-under and maybe more.”
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth is also five-under after storming up the leaderboard by picking up five shots in four holes between five and eight.