Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland players move up Irish Open leaderboard

Darren Clarke
Image caption Darren Clarke shot a 69 to move up the leaderboard

Northern Ireland's three golf Major winners all made moves up the leaderboard in the second round of the Irish Open at Portrush.

Graeme McDowell birdied the 18th to move to -5, level with Rory McIlroy after he recorded a 69.

Darren Clarke is a shot further back on -4, but it is Ballymoney-born Michael Hoey who is the top NI player at the moment on -7.

Leading the Irish challenge is Padraig Harrington at -10.

He is two shots behind Gregory Bourdy from France who tops the leaderboard .

Portrush's McDowell He started off with two bogies and a birdie in the first three holes.

However, he went on to pick up five birdies, as well as rescuing pars from some difficult situations.

McIlroy had five birdies in his round, but also bogied the sixth and fourteenth holes to cut a slightly frustrated figure at the end.

Clarke bogied the first hole, but went on to also card five birdies, with his only other blip a five at the par four seventh.

The cut is projected to be -1, so the Dungannon man looks certain to make his first cut of the year.

Weather conditions were again difficult on Friday morning, with blustery winds and rain, although there were no suspensions in play like on Thursday.

Conditions improved in the afternoon, prompting McDowell to quip to TV cameras "four seasons in one day - you've got to love Portrush".

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