Thomas Bjorn leads the individual standings at the World Cup by one stroke. Picture ©Getty ImagesIreland’s Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry have an almost impossible task at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf after they slipped 16 shots behind the United States after two rounds at Royal Melbourne.

McDowell bogeyed the last for a level par 71 before Lowry finished with back-to-back bogeys for a 72 as they ended the day ranked 17th of the 20 nations on six over par with the US side of Kevin Streelman and Matt Kuchar three clear of Denmark on 10 under. Team scores | Individual scores

“Somehow found a way to mess up that round at the end,” Lowry tweeted disconsolatey. “Dissapointing but that’s the way things have been going lately. #keepbattling”

Lowry’s season has petered out somewhat since he finished tied third in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews last month.

Making birdies and eagles for his Movember charity drive is now Lowry’s main concern. “6 birdies in the last 2 days means €600 for @MovemberIreland. I think my mo is doing well. What u think? #mobro” You can support him at to gather big world ranking points over the last few events of the year in his bid to make the world’s top 50 in time for a sustained Ryder Cup challenge, the world No 75 missed the cut in his defence of the Portugal Masters before finising his next three events well down the field [BMW Masters T24th, Turkish Airlines Open T44, DP World Tour Championship Dubai T39].

McDowell birdied his first two holes, picked up another shot at the sixth but then played the remainder in three over despite further birdies at the 11th, 15th and 17th.

Bogeys at the eighth and 10th and a double bogey six at the 13th left him level par with five to play but he followed birides at the 15th and 17th with bogeys each time.

It’s almost as bleak for the Irish pair in the individual standings with McDowell nine shots behind leader Thomas Bjorn (66-68) in joint 21st. 

Lowry’s rounds of 75 and 72 left him joint 45th on five over.

Björn, 42, leads by one from Streelman, who was four clear before thinning a bunker shot and doubling the ninth, on eight under after another superb performance.

But the 35 year old can at least console himself with the knowledge that he and compatriot Kuchar are on course to successfully defend the team title after moving to ten under par.

Danes Björn and Thorbjørn Olesen are the Americans’ closest challengers on seven under par, thanks mainly to the senior partner.

Despite opening and a closing with a bogey, Björn was again delighted with the control he exerted over what he termed “one of the top three courses in the world”.

He added: “There were a couple of things that happened on the golf course today that really tested me. I three-putted the first, so got caught a little bit there.

“But after that I patiently worked my way into the round and played very solid. Maybe not quite as good as yesterday on the front nine, but on the back nine I played awesome.

“Obviously it was disappointing to bogey the last, but if you’d asked me when the ball was in the air, I would’ve said you couldn’t have hit a better golf shot. 

“But you have got to take that on this course. Some bounces go your way, and some go against you on this course. Maybe I was a bit unfortunate, but I have to remember that I played some really, really good stuff on that back nine.”

Home hero Jason Day and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos, who signed for rounds of 70 and 69 respectively, share third place on four under.

In the South African Open at Glendower GC in Johannesburg, Simon Thorntonw as the best of the Irish in the first round after a two under 70 left him six shots behind leader Matthew Nixon (64) with Gareth Maybin (72) also inside the cut mark.

Peter Lawrie (74), Paul McGinley and Michael Hoey (75 each), Damien McGrane (77) and Justin Brink (79) were well downt he field.