Big picture looking clearer for Lowry and Maybin

Shane Lowry was happy and Gareth Maybin, presumably, was equally pleased as he produced an awesome display of ironplay to give himself a chance of getting his Race to Dubai season back on the strait and narrow in the Open de España.

The Ballyclare man, 33, is fifth for greens hit in regulation (75%) after two gruelling rounds at a tiger tough PGA Catalunya Resort, adding a two under 70 to his opening 73 to make his second successive cut after five blank weeks in a row.

Ranked 198th in the money list, Maybin is tied for 13th on one-under par, just five strokes behind Belgian Qualifying School graduate Thomas Pieters, who continued his love affair with the Girona track to claim the halfway lead with a second successive 69.

The 22 year old is one ahead of first round leader Eddie Pepperell (71) and the Ryder Cup chasing Dutchman Joost Luiten (69) with Francesco Molinari just two behind thanks to a wonderful 67.

A very fit looking Shane Lowry just misses his putt on the third. Picture: Eoin Clarke

While the wind dropped later in the day, PGA Catalunya Resort proved to be a terrific test with the cut falling at a season-high four over par.

It suits an experienced and accurate player such as European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley, who shot 72 for the second day running to find himself inside the Top 25 on level par.

As for Lowry, he made the weekend for the first time in four starts since the Trophée Hassan II two months ago, though closing bogeys at the eighth and the tough ninth took some of the gloss off his morning as he posted a 74 to end the day tied for 35th on two over.

Like Pieters, Waterford rookie Kevin Phelan also enjoyed a successful return to the venue where he earned his tour card last year with three birdies in a row early in his round laying the foundation for a one under 71 that saw him make it with a shot to spare on three over.

Kevin Phelan drives on the third. Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Phelan might have feared the worst when he finished with a bogey on the ninth but it was more than enough as the field averaged 74.75 in round two.

David Higgins finished with three bogeys from the 16th for a 74 to make it on three over while Simon Thornton came home in 40 for a 76 but still make it on the four over limit.

Others were not so fortunate, such as American Peter Uihlein, who added an 81 to his opening 69 to miss by two.

Michael Hoey simply failed to spark as he shot 74-78 to miss out by four while Damien McGrane ended up with the weekend off for the fourth week running as he added a 79 to his damaging opening 75.

As for the leader, Pieters has made just two halfway cuts this season.

"I think I'm good enough and it had to show today," said the Belgian, who was eighth in Malaysia earlier this month. "I didn't think that six under after two days would be leading but it's a tough course, the rough is really high and the greens are firm enough.

"I know I'm up (there), but there's a long way to go. It's the first time I'm in first position, I'm happy to be here and excited for tomorrow. This is new for me and I just have to deal with it tomorrow. I'll try to stay calm, stay really patient... it's fun.

"I just turned pro in June last year. I know it's been a quick rise but I'd like to take it steady, take one tournament at a time and see where it goes."