Graeme McDowell dug deep into his well of pride to blitz Baltray with the lowest round in Irish Open history.

The Ulsterman was battling to make the cut after a first round 77 but took advantage of a massive improvement in the afternoon weather to crack an 11 under par 61.

It was the lowest Irish Open round ever - beating the previous best by a shot - and the lowest of McDowell’s life.

And after caressing a magical 59 before settling for shaving two strokes of the day old course record to make the cut with just two shots to spare, McDowell confessed that it was pride drove him on.

He said: “Today was a lot about pride. There is no doubt that kicks in. After the 77 yesterday I was extremely disappointed to come here in front of my home fans and disappoint the way I did but I knew I hadn’t played that badly.

“I wasn’t fuming last night but I was disappointed and frustrated. I think Conor, my manager, was a bit worried that maybe my head might be unscrewing itself.

“In hindsight I needed something ridiculously low to make the cut. I can’t believe how low the cut is. It’s just crazy but a testament to how good these guys are.

“We have to count ourselves lucky that we were on the right side of the draw and the guys this morning had it very difficult. We had it extremely benign this afternoon and the tees were up, the pins were easy and the wind barely blew at all.”

McDowell was second last in the 156-man field overnight but after a couple of pints of Guinness he made up his mind that if he was going to go down, he was going to go down fighting.

And what a performance he produced in front of massive home crowds as well as his proud parents Kenny and Marian.

He said: “I had a pint and my world was okay again. I guess pride kicks in a little bit this morning and you go out there and you realise that if you’re not going to make the cut, damn sure I’m going to get as many shots back as I possibly can anyway and bring a statement of pride back to myself.”

McDowell started like a train with birdies at the first and second and an eagle three at the third, where he hit a three wood to four feet.

He hit the pin at the fourth to get to five under, holed a 20 footer at the fifth and a four footer at the par-five sixth before training a 15 footer to go eight under after eight holes.

Thoughts of shooting a magical 59 raced through his head as he headed up the ninth.

He said: “Part of you can’t believe what’s actually going on. At eight under par through eight holes I’m think 59 and it’s very difficult to keep the foot down.

“In some ways the bogey at 12 might be the best thing that ever happened me. It gave me the kick I needed to refocus and realise I still had to finish off the job.”

And he did that brilliantly with easy birdies at the 14th and 15th getting him to nine under par.

At the 17th he hit 10 under when he drained a 25 footer from the fringe and then polished off the lowest official round of his career with a simple, two-putt birdie from just off the green at the last.

Just seven of the 23 Irish made the weekend with Rory McIlroy seven shots behind leader Shane Lowry on seven under after a 68.

The biggest victim was triple major winner Padraig Harrington who shot 68 in the worst of the wind and rain but missed out by a shot on three under.

McDowell has huge admiration for the Dubliner and believes he will soon be back to his best.

Amazed that Harrington is tweaking his swing, he said: “He wins three form six major and still he’s crucifying himself of the range from some bizarre reason. He just  wants to become better and better and better and I’m sure he’s got a master plan and at some point he will emerge.”

Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley shot 68s and Gary Murphy a 69 to trail the Clara ace Lowry by nine shots on five under with Damien McGrane scraping in on the mark after a 71.

Just 24 hours after being named Seve Trophy skipper, McGinley is hoping the high winds forecast will give him a chance to claw his way back into the mix and kick start his season.