Lowry lurking in Turkey
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Shane Lowry is 43-under par for the 20 rounds he's played on the European Tour since he returned from the US five weeks ago.

In other words, he's averaging 68.85 per round. 

But if he's to count his season-ending run in Europe as a success and make a move in the world rankings, the Race to Dubai and the Ryder Cup standings, he needs to turn a fast start into a big finish in the Turkish Airlines Open in Belek.

The Clara man might have finished with a bogey for the second day running, but as Pádraig Harrington's 72 saw him slip back to tie 13th on five-under-par alongside Paul Dunne (70), Lowry's 66 leaves him in position to chase down leader Nicolas Colsaerts.

At eight-under-par, the world No 93 might be six strokes behind the Belgian. But after making 11 birdies in two rounds, he's hoping he can keep it going at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, despite losing some confidence in his ability to hit fairways over the closing holes.

"To be honest, I'm not that comfortable out there, but I seem to be getting the job done," Lowry said after sandwiching seven birdies between bogeys at the second and 18th. 

"I drove it lovely yesterday and the first 13 holes today. I just got a little bit uncomfortable towards the end. But I'll be fine."

Colsaerts shot a second successive, seven-under par 64 to lead by four strokes from Eddie Pepperell on 14-under par and Lowry will try to reel him in alongside Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters 

"That bogey on the last means I'm definitely not going to be playing with him tomorrow," Lowry said of Colsaerts.

"So maybe that's a good thing that I won't be watching him as much as I'll be focusing on trying to make birdies as much as I can.

"When there's someone that far ahead, you just have to keep going and make as many birdies as you can, and hopefully they don't make as many as they have the previous couple of days."

Lowry prefers the tougher tests and a poor weather forecast might help his cause.

Ranked sixth for putting, he knows he has to keep scrambling well and holing putts to keep the pressure on Colsaerts

What's pleased him most about the first two round is "just the way I hung in."

He said: "It was one of those days, I got a couple of good breaks on the back nine, and you know, I hit a really bad tee shot on 15 and 16 and made par and birdie on those two holes.

"On a different day, it could be different but what pleased me most is when I wasn't comfortable, I still stood up there and tried to hit the best shot I could. That's all you can do in this game. I'll go to the weekend and see what I can do.

"There's a lot of golf to be played. There's 36 holes. There's plenty of holes where you can make big numbers out here. For all of us that are in the field, up near the top of the leaderboard, we all just need to go out and hit good shots and see what we can do."

Harrington produced a remarkable par save from trees at the second before he birdied the short sixth to be tied for second midway through his round.

His save at the second, which saw him chip from pine needles to five feet and make the putt despite being half-stymied by a tree, may go down as the recovery of the week.

But he then bogeyed the 10th, thinned a greenside pitch and bogeyed the par-five 12th and dropped another shot at the 13th to fall out of contention.

A birdie at the 14th got him back to one-over for the round but he ended the day nine shots behind Colsaerts, who had to work hard for his second successive 64.

After starting the day in a three-way share of the lead, Colsaerts quickly pulled clear of the field on the front nine, picking up four shots in his opening six holes. 

He added further birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th holes after the turn to lead by four strokes on 14 under par from Englishman Eddie Pepperell (66).

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67) is third on nine-under-par after a 67, while Ryder Cup players Matthew Fitzpatrick and Stephen Gallacher shot 65s to share fourth place with Lowry and England’s Matthew Southgate (65).

Last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions winner Justin Rose is nine shots off the pace on five under par after a round of 68, while the player he is trying to catch at the top of the Race to Dubai, fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, posted a round of 70 and is 13 shots back on one under par.

Nicolas Colsaerts

"I kind of had to work a little bit for this one. Yesterday was kind of eyes closed and everything kind of falling on my lap. Today it's more satisfying to shoot the same score but having to go and find it a little bit more.

“I still played great. I kept the ball in play the way I wanted. I had a bit of a good break on the second, and I recovered well every time I hit a bad shot, so I guess that was a key.

“If I'm capable of going 14 under in two rounds, then somebody else or a few other guys are capable of doing the same. I was kind of playing aggressively, sensibly enough, to still give myself birdie putts, because I have the pace of the greens since yesterday morning and that seemed to be fine.

“I'm going to try to keep playing the way I've been playing the last two days. I'm comfortable off the tee. I've been hitting my irons quite well. Probably not get ahead of myself, and see wherever that takes me.”

Eddie Pepperell

"I felt like I played really solid most of the round until 16 and 17. They weren't great tee shots. The one on 16 threw me a little bit but a nice way to finish. Try and improve a little bit on the long game over the weekend and keep the putter feeling nice.

“It was perfect playing conditions again. I felt like my game was in good shape all the way around. A couple iffy tee shots coming in, but staying patient and not trying to make any silly errors. When I wasn't quite close to the hole on a couple of holes, had to two-putt, but didn't make any silly errors.

“The good thing is when I'm hitting my good shots, I seem to be making the most of them. That's always nice. You generally tend to move one way up the leaderboard when you do that. Two more days to try to do the same.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

“It's always a good way to finish the last with a birdie and get away from the golf course. It's a little bit closer to Nicolas, but the way he's playing the first two rounds is fantastic.

“The last three months, I was playing solid golf and really comfortable with the swing. The way I'm striking the ball is fantastic. I'm working with my coach and understanding what to do, and I think it's working the right way.

“Golf today is on and off. Didn't hit a lot of good shots but some holes that I need the putt, I made the putt. So quite struggling in the middle of the round, but overall still a good score.”

Matthew Fitzpatrick

“Yesterday I gave myself the same amount of chances, seven inside 15 feet and just didn't hole them. Whereas today, I had Jamie, my caddie, reading them and just sort of taking advantage of those chances, really.

“It's been a common theme in the last few weeks, really, not dropping too many shots. Obviously, want that to continue, but there's going to be times where it's going to be tough. It's not easy out there. I think I'm just going to try to keep doing what I'm doing.”

Turkish Airlines Open, Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort (Par 72)

Detailed scores

128 N Colsaerts (Bel) 64 64, 

132 E Pepperell (Eng) 66 66, 

133 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 67, 

134 Shane Lowry (Irl) 68 66, M Southgate (Eng) 69 65, S Gallacher (Sco) 69 65, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 65, 

135 L Westwood (Eng) 67 68, 

136 J Smith (Eng) 69 67, P Uihlein (USA) 69 67, S Kjeldsen (Den) 67 69, T Pieters (Bel) 69 67, 

137 M Pavon (Fra) 66 71, D Frittelli (RSA) 70 67, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 65 72, A Romero (Arg) 65 72, Paul Dunne (Irl) 67 70, J Rose (Eng) 69 68, J Luiten (Ned) 64 73, T Olesen (Den) 69 68, I Poulter (Eng) 66 71, T Hatton (Eng) 67 70, 

138 F Zanotti (Par) 72 66, C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 67, J Suri (USA) 68 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 69, 

139 H Porteous (RSA) 64 75, A Otaegui (Esp) 69 70, P Waring (Eng) 70 69, J Campillo (Esp) 68 71, R Ramsay (Sco) 71 68, 

140 L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 70, N Elvira (Esp) 69 71, M Siem (Ger) 70 70, M Fraser (Aus) 69 71, A Altuntas (Tur) 71 69, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 71, 

141 R Rock (Eng) 72 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 73, A Dodt (Aus) 74 67, R Fox (Nzl) 73 68, D Lipsky (USA) 74 67, T Bjørn (Den) 70 71, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 70, C Wood (Eng) 68 73, 

142 G Coetzee (RSA) 71 71, A Levy (Fra) 72 70, L Slattery (Eng) 70 72, S Hend (Aus) 72 70, M Kaymer (Ger) 71 71, M Warren (Sco) 72 70, 

143 M Wallace (Eng) 71 72, A Johnston (Eng) 70 73, R Wattel (Fra) 75 68, H Tanihara (Jpn) 74 69, E Molinari (Ita) 74 69, B Hebert (Fra) 72 71, D Horsey (Eng) 70 73, A Björk (Swe) 71 72, G Bourdy (Fra) 69 74, V Dubuisson (Fra) 73 70, 

144 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 74 70, B Stone (RSA) 70 74, H Stenson (Swe) 73 71, S Brazel (Aus) 72 72, 

145 A Connelly (Can) 72 73, J Wang (Kor) 72 73, 

146 R Paratore (Ita) 75 71, A Wall (Eng) 74 72, H Li (Chn) 73 73, 

147 R Sterne (RSA) 76 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 73 74, 

148 D Burmester (RSA) 76 72, 

149 N Bertasio (Ita) 75 74, 

150 G Storm (Eng) 75 75, L Acikalin (am) (Tur) 73 77, 

151 P Larrazábal (Esp) 81 70, 

158 T Yamac (am) (Tur) 79 79.