Rory McIlroy finds himself in with a great shout to win his first Irish Open title after a second-round 70 left him a shot behind leaders Danny Willett and Marc Warren.Scotland’s Warren fired a 66 at the K Club to move alongside overnight leader, Masters champion Willett, who today carded a 71 that included four bogeys.
McIlroy’s round included some scrappy play but a closing birdie on nine left him only one off the clubhouse lead.
Warren carded seven birdies in his 66. The 35-year-old Scot, yet to record a top-10 finish on the European Tour this season, showed signs of recapturing the form which took him into the world’s top 50 for the first time last year.
After missing the cut in his home event for the last three years, McIlroy, 27, said he was “excited” to be in contention at the halfway point despite some erratic play on Friday.
“I gave myself plenty of chances and took care of most of the par-fives but made too many mistakes,” said McIlroy, whose Rory Foundation is hosting the tournament.”I missed a few more greens because I missed a few more fairways, so I need to tidy that up – but 70 was not a bad score this morning.”To have the Masters champion and me both up there – it’s shaping up to be a great weekend.”
McIlroy is seeking a first win of the season after six top-10 finishes.
Danny Willett, 28, was unable to reproduce his first-round scoring despite once again getting the best of the weather conditions.
“It wasn’t bad – a little bit scrappy,” Willett said.”It was windy at times and there were a couple of sneakier flags out there as well, so you can’t come off being joint leader and be too unhappy” he added.
The 2012 Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson finished on three under in a group that includes English trio Eddie Pepperell, Chris Wood and Callum Shinkwin and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay.Elsewhere Graeme McDowell is seven off the pace on one under after a 72, while his year’s European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke made the cut on level par.