Singh survives bad start to hold Irish Open lead


India’s Jeev Milkha Singh recovered from a poor start to maintain his position on top of the leaderboard in the second round of the Irish Open on Friday. Singh matched the lowest round of his career in the first round on Thursday when an eight under par 63 put marquee names Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the shade. The 39-year-old son of a former Olympic sprinter hit an eagle and six birdies on Thursday, but found it harder to continue that inspired form 24 hours later.
Although Singh couldn’t repeat his opening round heroics, he still remains in first place after a one under par round of 70 put him two strokes ahead of England’s Simon Wakefield and Raphael Jacquelin of France, who are tied in second on seven under par for the tournament.
Singh quickly set the tone for an erratic round as his first drive landed in the hazard beside Lough Leane. He bogeyed the first hole and the 418 yard fourth, but then found enough composure to birdie the second, with a fine putt from eight feet, and also the seventh and the short tenth. Meanwhile, Wakefield came on strong late in his round and birdied the 16th and 17th to reach seven under. Just one further back was 22-year-old Northern Irish amateur Paul Cutler, who has done his hopes of a Walker Cup cap in September no harm at all with rounds of 69 and 67.
Cutler’s goal was to make the cut, but now he was being asked about his chance of emulating friend Shane Lowry, who won the title as an amateur only two years ago.
“I think it would be silly to think I can win it,” he said, but when pressed on whether he thought he could he replied: “Yeah, why not?” Clarke — playing for the first time since his British Open triumph at Sandwich two weeks ago — is not certain to make the cut after a hat-trick of bogeys from the 11th saw him card a round of 74 which left him one over par after two rounds. Padraig Harrington seems certain to crash out as he finished with a round of 72 after Thursday’s 73, leaving him three over par for the tournament. US Open champion McIlroy, out of sorts at the British Open, remained one under par for the tournament after five holes of his second round.