Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry were in contrasting moods after two under par 70s kept them in the hunt for the $8 million jackpot in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
On a day when Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood revived his hopes of claiming the money title with a second round 65, Dunne was frustrated on the greens all day before a closing eagle left him just three shots behind leader and defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick on seven-under-par at halfway.
"It was a really frustrating day," the Greystones star told Meridian Media after his putting deserted him and he compiled a round featuring two eagle threes, just two birdies and four bogeys.
"I thought I played as good tee to green as I have all year. My swing felt great, I was flighting the ball really nicely and just couldn't get any putts — I mean none.
“I am hoping it is one of those freak days. I can't even count the number of chances I missed inside 10 feet, I reckon there were at least eight or nine. I really could have shot a low one.”
The Wicklow man went to the turn in two under 34, as he mixed two birdies and two bogeys with a chip-in eagle three at the seventh.
Two back nine bogeys left him frustrated playing the 18th where he hit a 260-yard three wood into the heart of the green and made the putt to apply a gloss finish to an otherwise lacklustre day.
“I am only three shots back, so if I continue to hit the ball the way I am hitting it and putt like I putted the first day, I will have a great chance,” Dunne said.
"I feel like if I just play normally, I am going to shoot in the mid to high 60s every day. Hopefully, my score is a little bit better than everyone else's."
Running on fumes as he plays his eighth event in nine weeks, Lowry had to rely on his magical short game to save pars early on the back nine before three birdies in his last four holes allowed him to sign for a 70 he felt was "one of the best two unders I've ever shot."
“I played quite poorly today," a relieved Lowry said at the finish. "I don't know how I shot two under. It was one of those days where I felt quite tired.
"I made bad decisions, hit lazy shots and I think I was really tired out there and need to go back and have a rest and get out there tomorrow.”
The Offaly man is just five shots behind Fitzpatrick, who shot a 67 to lead by one stroke on 10-under-par from 63-shooter Tyrrell Hatton.
Race to Dubai challenger Justin Rose also carded a 70 to lie just two shots off the lead in a tie for fourth with American Julian Suri and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
But Fleetwood is now back in the mix and after shooting 73 to Rose’s 66 on day one, he responded impressively with a 65 that leaves him just two shots behind his opponent and back at the top of the projected Race to Dubai Rankings.
“I don't know if Justin will be bothered or not," said Fleetwood, who is just four shots off the lead on six-under-par.
"He's so strong mentally, and he knows what he's doing, He's been in a lot of situations like this. This is my first time. But I'm glad I've put my name up there.”
“It was great to obviously hole the 25-footer on the last. I said to my caddie Jamie, we were putting really well all week so far and all day today. It was actually the first one from that sort of that length we felt like was a fairly easy read, right-to-left and slightly downhill. That's all there was to it.
“I think it's one of those things - I've got nothing to lose. I'm not trying to win The Race to Dubai unfortunately. I won here last year, so I've got nothing to lose. Obviously, it would be nice to defend but you know sort of the odds when you're coming into the tournament, there are great players at the top of the leaderboard already.
“I think the only thing I would say is that I did win last year, and that probably gives me a little bit more confidence than everyone else, maybe apart from Rosey because he's won the last two starts. I'm just looking forward to the weekend and delighted that I could put myself in position.”
“Obviously if you said at the start of the day I would shoot nine-under, I would be over the moon. It was a pretty bitter pill to swallow on 18 though. That hole seems to hate me. Hopefully one day I'll actually play it well.
“OverallI'm really happy with today. Obviously, my head is a bit all over the place after 18. It was nice to hole putts again. That was a big thing today. There was a little substitution with the putter from yesterday, so that seemed to work well.
“If I can keep putting like that for the rest of the tournament, then hopefully on Sunday, I'll give myself a good chance. But I felt a lot better today. Yesterday, I was struggling with cramps in my back and a horrific blister on my foot. It's just the blister now, so a spoonful of cement at dinner and I'll be all right tomorrow.”
“It's actually a tricky one to try to sum up. I drove the ball really well, which obviously set up an opportunity to shoot a really good score. I would say the putter was the weakest link today.
“I had a really hard time reading the greens. That was what I found the hardest, I created quite a few good chances, especially on the back nine again.
“The front nine was steady enough, to be honest. I had a couple lucky breaks there at 7 and 8 but then couldn't quite capitalize with wedges in my hand at 10 and 11. So I think was a day that could have been a couple better but for the putter.
“I was aware of Tyrrell earlier. I knew there was a good score to be had out there but from Tommy's point of view, it's a great bounce-back after yesterday. Like I tried to say all week, it doesn't really make much difference to me in my mindset.
“It might make a difference on Sunday because I know there's tons of permutations still. But in terms of my task, it doesn't make too much difference.”
“It's all about how you react to stuff, isn't it. Yesterday I was really happy with how I reacted early on. I got off to a bad start and got back into it and I didn't really play great. I missed a couple of putts and it was like one of those rounds.
“It was a big day. But today, you have to get over it, you move on, and there are still three rounds of golf left to play. Now there are two. My swing felt a lot better, I was on the putting green until dark last night. You know, today was just a much better today.
“I don't know if Justin will be bothered or not. He's so strong mentally and he knows what he's doing. He's been in a lot of situations like this. This is my first time. But I'm glad I've put my name up there.
“At least my name is somewhere now, rather than the wrong end of the leaderboard. You still have to go out and shoot scores. He's on amazing form at the moment. You know, I won't put him past it carrying it on and shooting another one.”
DP World Tour Championship, Dubai (Jumeirah Golf Estates Par 72)
134 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 67 67,
135 T Hatton (Eng) 72 63,
136 J Rose (Eng) 66 70, J Suri (USA) 68 68, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 69 67,
137 Paul Dunne (Irl) 67 70, P Reed (USA) 65 72, J Rahm (Esp) 69 68, S Hend (Aus) 66 71, S Kjeldsen (Den) 68 69,
138 T Fleetwood (Eng) 73 65, R Fox (Nzl) 67 71, D Burmester (RSA) 70 68, A Björk (Swe) 67 71,
139 P Uihlein (USA) 71 68, D Frittelli (RSA) 71 68, I Poulter (Eng) 70 69, P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 70, R Fisher (Eng) 71 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 70, S Garcia (Esp) 70 69,
140 F Molinari (Ita) 69 71, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 72, A Otaegui (Esp) 71 69, H Porteous (RSA) 70 70,
141 J Wang (Kor) 71 70, C Shinkwin (Eng) 72 69, M Pavon (Fra) 71 70, L Haotong (Chn) 72 69,
142 D Lipsky (USA) 70 72, C Schwartzel (RSA) 70 72, J Smith (Eng) 75 67, F Zanotti (Par) 67 75, R Sterne (RSA) 71 71, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 72, V Dubuisson (Fra) 75 67, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 73 69, T Olesen (Den) 74 68,
143 A Noren (Swe) 74 69, J Luiten (Ned) 73 70, B Grace (RSA) 72 71, A Levy (Fra) 67 76,
144 D Horsey (Eng) 68 76, P Waring (Eng) 70 74, C Wood (Eng) 70 74, R Ramsay (Sco) 72 72, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 76, A Sullivan (Eng) 68 76,
145 E Pepperell (Eng) 75 70, D Drysdale (Sco) 73 72,
146 G Coetzee (RSA) 70 76,
147 B Wiesberger (Aut) 71 76, S Jamieson (Sco) 76 71, A Dodt (Aus) 70 77,
148 M Warren (Sco) 72 76, T Pieters (Bel) 74 74, L Westwood (Eng) 75 73,
149 L Bjerregaard (Den) 75 74,
150 H Tanihara (Jpn) 73 77, G Storm (Eng) 76 74.