Jorge Campillo has halfway lead, and happy vibes, heading into the weekend at Horizon Irish Open

Former Qatar Masters champion Jorge Campillo is halfway to a third DP World Tour title after making the most of the better morning weather at Mount Juliet Estate to snare the 36-hole lead at the Horizon Irish Open.

The 36-year-old Spaniard added to his opening 65 with a six birdie, two bogey Friday 68 to set the clubhouse target at -11. With the rain settling in and wind cranking up at Thomastown just as Campillo was putting the finishing touches on his second round, none of the afternoon starters were able to catch the world No.350.

Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti (65-69) and Pole Adrian Meronk (67-67) are set to start Saturday a shot adrift of Campillo while Séamus Power will have the rowdy home galleries on his side in a group of seven players at -8. The PGA Tour-based Irishman has compiled a pair of 68s but the major roars were reserved for playing partner Shane Lowry who birdied his final four holes to make the cut.

Lowry (71-70) is at -3 in a group that includes freshly-minted U.S. Senior Open champion Pádraig Harrington (70-71). First-round leader Ryan Fox endured a tough Friday, following up his bogey-free 64 with four dropped shots in a 73. The Kiwi is still in it at -7 in a group of four planets T11 including defending champion, Lucas Herbert. The Australian has signed for scores of 69-68 thus far.

But Friday belonged to Campillo whose season is trending nicely, highlighted by a share of 13th at the Magical Kenya Open and a T15 finish at last week’s BMW International.

“Yeah, it has been all year,” Campillo said, agreeing his game is in tidy shape.

“I make a bunch of cuts. You know, some weeks I didn’t putt good. Some weeks I didn’t drive it good and some weeks I didn’t hit the irons good. I guess this week, everything is good, so far, so good. Hopefully I can keep playing like this but yeah, been playing pretty much solid all year.”

Campillo, who made his DP World Tour breakthrough at the 2019 Trophée Hassan II in Morocco, is hoping for more settled conditions over the week after admitting “I’m not so good in the rain but the guys from the U.K., they are quite good, so they still play good.”

“It’s going to be a hard weekend but just looking forward to the weekend. If I can keep putting the ball in play off the tee, hitting good irons like I’ve been doing, not missing short putts, missed a few today, it will be a good weekend I think.

“I played great over the last two days, so I can’t complain. It was great two days. Today was a little tougher than yesterday and I managed to play okay as well, so I’m quite happy about it.”

Power described Friday’s home support as “amazing, one of the better atmospheres I’ve ever played golf in”. It’s little wonder, then, that he’s looking forward to the weekend.

“It would be huge [winning], one of the things you grow up dreaming about in golf. Obviously, I need another good one tomorrow to give myself a chance on Sunday. Seems I’m in a good spot only three back but it’s going to be more of the same for me and maybe just cut out a couple of the mistakes and I should have a chance.”

Lowry, meanwhile, is just happy to be playing the weekend at all after his late birdie-binge helped him avoid the -1 cut.

“It was pretty cool. To be honest, I had kind of resigned myself to the fact I was going home, packing my bags,” said the 2009 champion from County Louth Golf Club.

“Don’t know if I’ve ever birdied the last four to make a cut so that’s a first. I’m just happy to be in the weekend. Everybody knows how much this tournament means to me and how much I want to be here. Quite a few people come to see me play and nice to have them here now and I’m looking forward to the weekends.”

Lowry is eight strokes back starting the weekend but has his putter cooperating again.

“I need to go low tomorrow but I feel like found something today on the back nine so I’m excited for the weekend and the [JP McManus] Pro-Am Monday, Tuesday [at Adare Manor] and The Open,” Lowry said.

“Honestly I was telling myself, I think that’s why I let myself play good golf — I told myself coming down the last few holes that I felt like I found something on the greens and found something mentally. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

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