The Open: Rory McIlroy equals round of the week to miss cut by a shot but McDowell through as Shane Lowry leads
Rory McIlroy produced the stand-out round of the week at The Open only to miss the cut by a single shot.
The world number three tied the lowest round of the week and the record for the new Dunluce Links course with a six under par 65.
He carded five birdies during a rip-roaring back nine, while missing another good chance after a stunning approach from the thick rough on the 17th.
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It was the thrill of the week so far for the Royal Portrush fans, only to end in heartache as the main man's birdie chip at the last was pulled left. In truth, it was the second shot that closed the door, but had it been just a couple of feet to the right, it would have clung to the green and set up a makeable chance.
McIlroy will remember not only the quadruple and triple bogeys during his opening round 79, but in particular the six-inch putt he missed on the par three 16th, nonchalantly attempting to tap in, the ball lipping out to result in a four putt.
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On the other side of the all-important divide, Portrush man Graeme McDowell, who impressively parred all four holes of the notoriously difficult closing stretch to get in a one over par for the week, +1 for the day.
Offaly's Shane Lowry is in prime position to thrill the local support, ending Friday tied for the lead alongside American JB Holmes at eight under par.
He threatened to rip the course apart, starting with three straight birdies and added two more to hit 10 under for the week with 10 holes under his belt. The closing stretch bore its teeth as Lowry was two over for the closing five holes to slip back into a tie at the top.
Lurking just a shot behind the leaders are English duo Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood, who shot three and four under respectively for the back nine.
Darren Clarke's finish, however, was arguably even more heart-breaking than Rory's.
He missed the cut by two after three putting the 18th for a triple bogey seven. Having driven into the bunker, he failed to get his second shout out, meaning he did not reach the green until his fourth shot.
An ugly three-putt only added insult to injury, even if, in the end, the second miss didn't matter.
The cut remaining at one over par was bad new for Mallow amateur James Sugrue as well as McIlroy. Finishing just a shot shy, his triple bogey seven at the 14th ultimately cost him a place in the weekend.
Tiger Woods carded a much improved second round 70 to get in at +6, not enough to make the cut. He did give it a scare, three under for his day through 11, but couldn't finish the job and even made back-to-back bogeys to finish off.
Portrush caddy Ricky Elliott will be among the final groups on Saturday as his man Brooks Koepka finished at two under for the day and five under for the tournament.
Here's what turned into a day of unbelievable action as it happened:
Belfast Telegraph Digital