Lowry lurking, McDowell resurgent, Kearney and Dunne solid at Woburn

Matthew Fitzpatrick. Picture: Getty Images

Shane Lowry was frustrated by the greens but pleased to be just two shots off the lead at the halfway stage in the British Masters at Woburn.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick produced another late rally to retain the lead after birdieing the final two holes two days running for a second round 69 to share the lead with Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen on nine under par.

Englishman Richard Bland and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat both posted four under par rounds of 67 and are one shot behind the leading duo on eight under par with Lowry's 69 leaving him tied for fifth despite taking 34 putts in a round featuring three birdies and just one bogey.

"It was quite a frustrating day and I wasn't holing any putts," said Lowry.."I really struggled on the greens out there. I struggled with the pace and struggled to get the ball on line and it wasn't easy.

"But I kept fighting, kept going, stayed patient and made a couple of birdies towards the end after a bad bogey on six but other than that I am pretty happy where I am going into the weekend."

Lowry felt he could have shot 65 on better greens but he's ready to take on all conditions and hoping a forecast for wind will play into his hands.

Graeme McDowell continued his good form, posting his 10th successive sub par round, a four under 67 to climb to 13th on five under.

The Portrush man has hit 24 of 28 fairways and putted solidly as he continued his quest to get back into the game's elite.

Royal Dublin's Niall Kearney, playing with confidence after back to back Irish PGA wins last week, carded as second successive 69 to share 23rd on four under with Pádraig Harrington, who dropped three shots in a row from his second hole and ended up having 32 putts in a one over 72.

The Dubliner started on the 10th and three putted the 11th, 12th and 13th because, he said of the shadows cast by the tall pines.

"I putted well yesterday but today I had three three-putts early on that put me on the back foot for the rest of the round," Harrington told Reuters. "It was very, very hard to read the greens today. My three three-putts were definitely down to the shadows.

"I hit three good first putts, all from 35 feet or so, but I just misjudged them in the shadows. It does make a big difference, I've got to say, seeing the slopes and that. It's a lot more easy to see the lines when there aren't any shadows around."

Harrington, however, is still within touching distance of the early pacesetters, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.

"If the lead stays at nine-under-par today I'm not out of it," said the triple major winner.

"I did well after my three-putts but it just makes you a little bit tentative. You want to free up to play your best golf and when you've dropped a few shots and good things aren't happening, you start to get a bit too careful.

"When you hole a few putts, make a few birdies, you're happy about things and that's always a good sign."

"The greens were great this morning, With them being soft they do take a lot of wear and tear for the afternoon but they are lovely to putt on. They are quality surfaces and all told it's a very good golf course."

Paul Dunne dug deep to make the level par cut by two shots, making birdies at the 16th and 17th to avoid any late drama in a 69 as Michael Hoey finished on level after a 73.

Damien McGrane's frustrating season will now come down to the last two events after he missed the cut by a shot on one over after rounds of 72 and 71. 

The Kells man is 167th in the money list and like his pal Peter Lawrie, he looks likely to be heading for Q-School unless he can find a big cheque in Portugal or Hong Kong over the next two weeks. 

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, 74-72, also missed the cut.