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McDowell is left playing catch-up after mixed day

 

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Up and down: Graeme McDowell during his second round in Ohio

Up and down: Graeme McDowell during his second round in Ohio

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Up and down: Graeme McDowell during his second round in Ohio

Graeme McDowell was last night set to make his first cut since the PGA Tour's restart despite a one-over-par second round at the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

The Portrush star failed to match his four-under-par first-round 68 on a rather changeable Friday in Ohio.

McDowell's round was interrupted by a suspension in play that lasted over an hour due to a severe storm passing through and, shortly after he finished out, the tournament was once again called to a halt. At that stage, McDowell was in a tie for 19th but only two shots inside the cutline on a tightly-packed leaderboard, with American Collin Morikawa opening up a six-shot lead on 13-under-par.

It's a marked improvement for McDowell, who had previously missed both cuts in the two tournaments he has played since the PGA Tour's return last month.

He then opted to withdraw from the Travelers Championship and sat out last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic after his caddie Ken Comboy tested positive for the coronavirus.

McDowell missed just three greens in his four-under-par round on Thursday but couldn't keep that accuracy going on day two, hitting none of his first seven greens in regulation.

His impressive run of up-and-down par saves, which featured a 25ft putt on the third, was spoiled on the par-four sixth when his 8ft par putt missed.

McDowell finally looked to be finding some rhythm when he hit four of the next five greens, successfully holing out for birdie at the 11th to get back to even par for the day and four-under for the week, but his momentum was halted on the 13th with that 75-minute suspension in play.

When he returned, it was with a bogey five as another errant drive and approach was punished.

He bounced back in perfect fashion with back-to-back birdies thanks to two successful putts from over 20ft, but that joy was short-lived as McDowell gave both shots back over a disappointing final three holes, summing up a topsy-turvy day.

Overnight leader Morikawa picked up right where he had left off on Thursday, adding a six-under-par 66 to his opening-round 65.

The American went close to his second PGA Tour title last month when he was beaten in a play-off by Daniel Berger at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Behind him in second place was 44-year-old Ian Poulter, looking for his fourth PGA Tour victory after adding a second-round 69 to his Thursday 68 to reach seven under par.

"I've felt refreshed," Poulter said of his return to action following lockdown.

"I feel fitter than I have in a number of years. It actually gave us an opportunity to do a bit more work than obviously what we're used to, and that's nice. I feel good about my game and I'm holing a few putts."

Meanwhile, Open champion Shane Lowry was three-under par for the week, level for the day through two, when the second suspension in play was called.

√ The European Tour could take the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to the Old Head of Kinsale this year if they fail to come to an agreement with Mount Juliet to extend their one-year deal to two.

The €7m (£6.2m) Rolex Series event was scheduled to take place at the spectacular County Kilkenny resort from May 28-31, but it was postponed on March 30 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thanks to the postponement of September's Ryder Cup, an Irish Open with a greatly reduced prize fund could still go ahead in Thomastown from September 24-27 but only if travel restrictions are eased and the European Tour agree to give Mount Juliet a second bite of the cherry in 2021.

According to sources with inside knowledge of the negotiations, resort owners Tetrarch Capital would only be willing to host a low-key Irish Open in September if there were no hosting costs this year and they could also be guaranteed a full-field Rolex Series event with all the bells and whistles next summer.

Belfast Telegraph