Jon Rahm retains the belief he can still win The 149th Open after a fine round of 64 lifted him into a tie for 12th at -5, six behind leader Louis Oosthuizen.
Rahm, Oosthuizen and Lowry all shone playing together on Friday afternoon, the Spaniard edging his partners by a single shot as all three made the most of a glorious afternoon at Royal St George’s and increasingly benign conditions.
Oosthuizen’s 65 – for a 36-hole Open record of 129 - means Rahm still has lots of ground to make up over the weekend, but the reigning U.S. Open champion expressed confidence after being reminded of his triumph at the Irish Open in 2019, when he finished 64-62 at Lahinch to claim a stunning victory.
“There is always a chance,” said Rahm, after beating his first round of 71 by seven strokes. “I would say, even though I love Lahinch, Royal St George's is a little bit more difficult of a golf course and the setup is a little tougher.
“The year in Lahinch, there wasn't much rough so I could take advantage of just hitting drivers and even be a little erratic for the most part, and give myself birdie chances. With that said, you know, I can play this level of golf on the weekend as well. I can play really good. It can get better as well.
“I think I give myself a chance to catch up by Sunday. But we will see tomorrow. Tomorrow is the most important day obviously right now. If I can put another solid round like I did today, post a good number, and hope that the leaders don't go too low, I think that's the job.
“So all I can control is what I can do, and, yes, I have the confidence that I can go low on a weekend to win the tournament. I’m hoping I don't have to do anything extravagant, but if it needs to be done, I'll try and I have the confidence I can do it.”
Lowry, the reigning Champion Golfer, also took heart from his excellent performance on Friday, as he responded to an opening-day 71 with a 65 – the same second-round score as Oosthuizen.
“Whenever one in the group is playing well it helps,” said Lowry, who is seven off the pace at -4. “I'm sure it helped the lads playing well and getting off to a good start and making a few birdies.
I was out there trying to get as many shots as I could back on Louis towards the end because I knew he was going be the leader going into the weekend. We had a great day out there. I’m not sure too many other three-balls will do better than that.”
Having struggled to find his best form with the driver, Lowry benefited from hitting a number of long irons off the tee on Friday and is looking forward to a weekend of warm weather.
“I think as it firms up over the weekend it'll suit me a little bit better as well,” he added.
“I hit a couple of decent drives out there today, but I think I only hit four drivers. That's kind of probably going to be my strategy at the weekend. We'll see how windy it gets or how many drivers I need to hit.”