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Lowry hits his top gear

Open champ shares lead at halfway mark of BMW

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Shane Lowry tees off on the 11th hole during Day 2 of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Shane Lowry tees off on the 11th hole during Day 2 of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Getty Images for BMW

Shane Lowry tees off on the 11th hole during Day 2 of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

Open champion Shane Lowry and local favourite Matthew Fitzpatrick both fired seven-under-par 65s in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship to share the lead at the halfway stage.

The duo, who were tied for third after matching opening rounds of 67 on Thursday, went 12-under for the tournament at the Wentworth Club in Surrey to sit a stroke ahead of overnight co-leader Tyrrell Hatton, who stayed in contention with a 67.

"This morning was a beautiful morning. It was very cold at the start and the ball was going a long way, no wind and it was lovely to play," said Irishman Lowry, who had seven birdies.

"Thankfully I took advantage of it and shot a couple of decent scores."

Lowry was runner up in this event in 2014 and has recorded three other top-10 finishes, but needed an extra push to confirm his place in the field.

"I felt like I needed a bit of a break to be honest but I decided to come late on Sunday night when I was watching the news back home and it said we were going to go under a stricter lockdown," the 33-year-old from Offaly explained after his bogey-free 65.

"I texted my caddie Bo, 'Do you fancy going this week?' and I think he was down at the pub having a pint so wasn't too happy."

Lowry will contest next week's CJ Cup in Las Vegas after belatedly being granted an invite. He had previously been turned down for an invite for the event, which was moved from South Korea to Las Vegas due to the pandemic, despite his status as a reigning major champion.

"Puzzles me, as well," he added with a smile. "I've got a nice piece of silverware at home they obviously know about."

Fitzpatrick was well on his way to better Paul McGinley's tournament record for the lowest score after 36 holes - 13-under set in 2008 - but a double bogey on the eighth hole ruined the Englishman's chances.

However, the 26-year-old said he was happy with his seven birdies and an eagle on the fourth hole.

"This is my best position I've been here. I love the golf course. I've always felt it suited my game," five-times European Tour winner Fitzpatrick said.

"I've never really kicked on around here... if I can just keep playing how I've been playing, make some putts as well, there's no reason why I can't finish it off."

Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who led alongside Hatton and South Africa's Justin Harding after the first round, was tied-sixth with Scot Grant Forrest.

Harding had a disappointing day with a round of 81.