The two first round leaders Hebert and Im, as well as the second-placed Rahm, all carded five under rounds of 67 over the Portstewart Golf Club on the northern coast of Northern Ireland to move to 13 under and 12 under respectively with Fox, Oliver Fisher and William Southgate another shot back in a share of 4th.
Neither Im nor Hebert have won on the European Tour and with such a lucrative purse for this week’s event (US7 Million) at stake, there is a lot to play for over the weekend even if neither is able to go on and win.
Spaniard Rahm – who played alongside tournament host and defending champion, Rory McIlroy - had six birdies and an eagle to thank as he continued the stunning form which has seen him earmarked as one of the most promising talents in the game.
While the news was good for Rahm it was not so good for his playing partner. McIlroy followed up his opening round of 72 with a round of 73 to miss the cut by a massive four shots.
Fox, meanwhile, will be hoping for a weekend of New Zealand success as he cheers on his home nation in the final test of rugby’s Lions series on Saturday before vying for a maiden European Tour title.
A six under 66 moved him to 11 under alongside Englishmen Oliver Fisher and Matt Southgate (both 68), while World Number Two Hideki Matsuyama was two shots further back on a nine under total after the Japanese star also signed for a 68.
Fox was delighted with his effort not only because it was a continuation of the form he displayed last week when tied for 4th in France, the latter tee time he now has on Saturday will allow him the opportunity to watch the All Blacks tackle the Lions in what will be the deciding match of their test series before he plays the third round.
“I guess last week took a little bit of pressure off the rest of the season,” said Fox. “It was by far my biggest pay cheque as a professional.
“I played really nice the whole week in France. I sort of struggled a little bit this year, so nice to take the confidence from that and be able to free-wheel it a little bit more this week. I guess it showed in the scores.
“I'm very happy I get to watch the Lions-All-Blacks match. I missed out on the last half an hour last week and didn't see any of the first test.
“I'm going to be a bit biased here and say that I think the Lions might have poked the bear a little bit. The All Blacks are generally pretty good about fronting up after they have been beaten and Eden Park is their fortress. I'm hoping for an All Blacks win tomorrow. I might be the only one hoping that but I'll be wearing my All Blacks jersey for sure.”
The leading Australians are Wade Ormsby and Andrew Dodt, both at 7 under par and six shots from the leaders.
Marcus Fraser is another shot further back while Scott Hend and Sam Brazel also made it into the weekend although are in 45th and 53rd position respectively.
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