Herbert leads the Irish Open by two strokes, while McIlroy shoots a 67.

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Australian Lucas Herbert retained the lead at the Irish Open while Rory McIlroy moved up the leaderboard after carding a five-under 67 on Friday.

Herbert also fired a 67 in the second round at Mount Juliet to move to 13 under and two clear of Andy Sullivan (66) and Grant Forrest (67).

McIlroy is eight shots back after carding five birdies with Open champion Shane Lowry (67) also five under.

Graeme McDowell (67) made the cut by just one shot on three under.

Lowry started his bid for a second Irish Open triumph with a 70 on Thursday while McIlroy is the best of the home contingent after improving on his opening 72.

Herbert posted eight birdies to go along with a bogey and double-bogey at the third to stay in front heading into the final two rounds.

McIlroy, the world number 10 from County Down was among the early starters and was looking good at five under for his opening 10 holes before parring home.

Returning home

The 2016 winner at the K Club is making his first appearance at the tournament for three years.

He will also compete in next week’s Scottish Open in preparation for his challenge at the Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

“I did some practice on Thursday night and figured a few things out,” said the four-time major winner.

“Being five under through 10 I thought I was on course for something a bit lower that five under but I’ll take it and it was a big improvement on Thursday’s round.

“I need to go on Saturday and play as well, if not better, to give myself a real chance of winning. Hopefully I will the give the crowd something top cheer over the next couple of days.”

England’s Dale Whitnell sits 10 under and a stroke clear of Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Johannes Veerman, Andrew Otuegui and Richard Bland.

Defending champion John Catlin is seven under while Tommy Fleetwood joins home favourites Lowry and McIlroy on five under.




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