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Fox Still Tops Ahead Of Weekend In Ireland

Ryan Fox shares the halfway lead at the Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club (Photo: Bruce Young)
His overnight lead had evaporated before he hit off but Ryan Fox hung tough at the Irish Open and shares the 36 hole lead for the first time in his European Tour career heading to the weekend at Ballyliffin.

Fox was alone at the top at 5-under following Thursday’s opening round but by the time he arrived for his afternoon tee time the target had already been lowered by two strokes.

Perhaps feeling the pressure the long hitting Kiwi started slowly Friday with a bogey at the third though turned even par after another dropped shot offset by two birdies.

He made huis presence felt on the inward half, however, with a blemish free 3-under which included a birdie at the last to temporarily claim the lead alone again.

France’s Mathieu Pavon and South African Erik van Rooyen soon joined him, however, though Fox is unfazed heading to the closing rounds.

“Seven or eight under is not going to win the golf tournament,” he said after his round.

“You have to get it double digits. I'll take the golf course on if it's there. We've been lucky with the wind, it's been obviously down today, as well, but I can take on a couple of bunkers with the wind direction it's been.

“If it blows the other way, I have no chance. I'll just take it how it comes and that's the great thing about links golf.”

He said he was comfortable being in contention despite not having been in this position before.

“It's probably my first time in one of these events being right up there, probably leading or going to be in the last group which is going to be a nice experience tomorrow,” he said.

“I'll just see what happens tomorrow. Looks like we're going to get another good day so I'm looking forward to it.”

Fox has two goals this week as he chases both a maiden European Tour title and a spot in the upcoming Open Championship at Carnoustie but is not getting ahead of himself.

“Obviously I'd love to be in The Open and if not, it's a week off, which is not a bad thing at this point of the year,” he said.

“But it's good golf. Don't think about it. And if I can finish in that Top-10, I've got a really good chance and obviously I'm in a pretty good place at the moment.”

While Fox is feeling aggressive tournament host Rory McIlroy is less pleased with his position after back to back bogeys to close out his second round.

The four-time major winner is at 1-under following a 1-over 73, seven off the lead and sharing 30thplace though pleased to be playing the weekend after four missed cuts in the last five years.

“I'm glad I'm around for the weekend,” a philosophical McIlroy said after his round.

“It's a tournament I've always wanted to play well at. It's not nice missing, especially as tournament host.

“At least I get to play another couple of days and hopefully play my way up the leaderboard.”

Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren is outright fourth at 7-under with England’s Sam Horsfield, South African Zander Lombard and former Masters winner Danny Willett 6-under and T5.

Wade Ormsby is alongside McIlroy at 1-under and T30, Adam Bland and Andrew Dodt the only other Australians to qualify for the weekend but both well back at 1-over and T63.

RACHEL BAILEY CHIPPING TIP - CARRY VS ROLL:

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