Gael force warning as Irish Open hots up

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell turned a damp squib into a firecracker at the 3 Irish Open.

Now it's a question of Gael Force with predicted 35mph winds forcing organisers to bring forward the start to 7.15 am today.

Amateur Lowry blasted an amazing 10-under par 62 to take an incredible two shot lead over Jamie Donaldson and Robert Rock on 15-under par an hour after McDowell blitzed a course record 61 - improving by 16 shots on his first round 77 - to make the cut with only two shots to spare.

Vicious wind and rain drenched early starters Padraig Harrington and John Daly and they missed the record low, four under par cut as bright sunshine brought red hot scoring in the afternoon.

But Lowry, Rory McIlroy and McDowell can beat the wind and keep the Irish flag flying in round three.

Determined to brave the weather, Lowry said: "It's going to be tough and I'm going to be nervous but I'l try to handle it as best I can and see what happens from there.

"If it's really bad I'll just go out and try to grind it away and see how it goes."

If he wins, Lowry will get a two year European Tour exemption from the moment he turns professional. But he is still dreaming of making the Walker Cup side to take on the US in Pennsylvania in September.

Harrrington's exit came as a shock as he looked certain to make it on three under par after a battling 68.

He missed out by a stroke as conditons that wrecked car parks and forced organiser to divert fans to nearby shopping centres changed completely in the afternoon.

Ireland will still have seven runners bidding to beat the elements at the Co Louth track with boy wonder McIlroy eight shots behind his former Irish amateur team mate on seven under par.

McDowell is nine adrift on six under with Darren Clarke, Paul McGInley and Gary Murphy all ten shots behind Clara native Lowry on five under.

McIlroy was Lowry's team mate just 18 months ago but the Offaly sensation knows he is not at the same level as the Holywood star. At least, not yet.

He said: "I wouldn't even put myself in the same league he is at this stage. Hopefully at some stage in my career I would be as good as him but I wouldn't even put myself up there with him.

"My main goal for the season is still to play Walker Cup. It's always been a dream of mine and I want to try and fulfill that and turn pro then after that and see what happens from there."

Lowry describes himself as a laid back character and at times he has been too laid back.

In 2006 he was disqualified twice in the space of a month - signing for a wrong score in the West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point when he should have led the qualifers and again in the Irish Amateur Open at Portmarnock when he "threw in the card" without signing it at all.

He made sure he checked his card assiduously this time, however, explaining: "My caddie was in there checking a couple of times, I was checking it a couple of times and the girl at the desk checked it for me. Yeah, I was relieved to get it in and get the score on the board."