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Big hitter Shane Lowry in contention for Masters glory after superb 68 at Augusta

Shane Lowry celebrates a birdie

Shane Lowry is right in the hunt for glory at the Masters following a brilliant second-round 68 at Augusta.

The Offaly man bounced back from a bogey at the first to card five birdies for the second best round of the say. But the best round went to the leader, world number one Scottie Scheffler. He is the man to beat after signing for a 67 and will go into the third round on -8, five shot ahead.

Meanwhile, Séamus Power survived his Amen Corner sins and produced a stunning finish to dip inside the projected cut line on his Masters debut.

As Rory McIlroy also battled back from the brink of missing the cut for the second year running, picking up two shots over his last six holes to card a second successive 73 to lie just five shots off the lead, the West Waterford man learned first hand that everything they say about Amen Corner is true.

He’d heard all about the capricious swirling winds that make the stretch from the approach to the 11th to the tantalising par-five 13th a graveyard for many Masters hopes.

But after having his patience sorely tested as he turned in three-over 39, he came back from six-over for the tournament with six to play with two late birdies, carding a second successive 74 on a day when swirling winds saw the field average 74.8 – a shot more than on Thursday.

Power made his first Masters birdie at the 10th, ripping a 200-yard approach through the crosswind to four feet and laughed as he raised his arms in mock triumph to his travelling support.

But while he then suffered successive Amen Corner body blows, dropping shots at the 11th, where the wind whipped his 213-yard approach right of the green, and the 12th, where he watched Patrick Reed’s tee shot knocked down into Rae’s Creek and comfortably fired his ball into the back bunker, he regrouped admirably.

Not many 74s feel special, but this one will live long in the memory of Power and West Waterford stalwart Lila O’Dwyer, a 20-year Augusta veteran, who hugged him as he walked off the 18th green.

His journey back from the brink began when he chipped dead from the edge of Rae’s Creek to birdie the 13th, survived air-mailing the 15th by 30 yards with a three wood to salvage his par five, then rifled an eight-iron over the lake to three feet at the 16th before finishing with two rock-solid par fours.

“It was tough there today, and my patience on the front nine was running thin,” said Power, who drove into the trees and bogeyed the fifth, dropped another shot when he missed the sixth green left and then three-putted the par-five eighth from 40 feet.

“I’m making bogeys, and you’re like I’m not really sure what just happened there. You think you’ve hit a good shot but just hits the wrong slope, it comes up four or five yards short or goes four or five yards long, and you’ve got four or five feet.”

He didn’t appear to have a prayer of making the cut when he bogeyed the first two holes in Amen Corner.

“Eleven is into the teeth, and the pin is in a narrow section on the front,” he explained of a hole where he missed the green right and almost chipped into the water. “Obviously, anything turned over too much is in the water, but then you miss it right, and it’s just a tough shot.

“It’s the same at 12. I watched guys and heard guys talk about 12 for years, and you’re like, Nah, it can’t be that bad really. Then you’re standing there today, and it was this bizarre sequence of events.

“Patrick Reed in front of me hits an 8-iron. We hit irons similar distance. He hits his 8-iron about 135 yards into the water. It was like, okay, I guess I have to flight it down a little bit.

“I hit one of the best shots of the day, and you watch it fly straight into the back bunker. Then you’ve got a shot you can’t land on the green.”

At four-over, Power was seven strokes behind 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel, who shot 69, and overnight leader Sungjae In, who posted a 74 to lead by a shot on three-over-par from debutant Harold Varner III (71) and 2020 champion Dustin Johnson (73).

Looking certain to make the cut as the conditions toughened for the later starters, Power can’t wait to build on his momentum this weekend.

“The whole experience here has been incredible,” he said, hoping he can better take advantage of the par-fives. “It’s going to be a great memory to play two more times. Hopefully, I can carry that little bit of momentum I got today into the weekend.”

It was also an important day for McIlroy, who birdied the second, bogeyed the fifth and 10th and double-bogeyed the 11th to slip to four-over before following Power’s example with birdies at the 13th and 16th to keep his dreams of the green jacket and the career Grand Slam alive.

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