Jeev slips a little, but hangs in

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Jeev Milkha Singh’s one-under 70 on Friday was nothing to write home about, but it was enough to keep him in the hunt.

Compared with his stunning first round eight-under 63, Jeev Milkha Singh’s second round one-under 70 was nothing to write home about.

But his 36-hole, nine-under 133 total was nevertheless good enough to give him the early clubhouse lead ahead of the morning field at the Irish Open.

Singh, whose day started with him hitting into the hazard by Lough Leane, said: “It was a bit more of a struggle, so I’m happy with one under.

“I didn’t drive it that well and my putting was not as good, but it was still good enough.”

With the afternoon field only in the early stages of their second rounds, Singh led by two shots from Englishman Simon Wakefield and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and by three from amateur Paul Cutler and compatriot Damien McGrane, the only two Irishmen in the top 20 on the leaderboard at that stage.

But the Indian front runner can’t be sure that he will still be there at sunset.

For coming up behind him in the afternoon field was Swedish upstart Niklas Lemke, who was 6-under after picking up two birdies on his first three holes, Ryder Cup star Ross Fisher, fellow Englishman David Horsey and Australian Richard Green who were all at five under with at least a dozen holes still to play.

Also in the mix at five-under, but still to tee off are Sweden’s Christian Nilsson and Germany’s Marcel Siem.

And the parade of stars playing in the first Irish Open ever to boast a field that includes four Irish or Northern Irish major winners – how were they doing?

Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, the last two winners of the US Open, were faring best, both being at one-under after playing five holes.

But Darren Clarke, the recently crowned 140th Open champion, was at one-over after posting a disappointing three-over 74 and an embattled Padraig Harrington, winner of back-to-back Opens and a PGA Championship some two years ago, was still struggling, this time at three-over after adding a one-over 72 to his first round 73.

With the projected cut currently standing at level-par, Clarke and Harrington are not expected to still be around at the weekend – and if McIlroy and McDowell are not careful – or a lot more enterprising than they have been – they too could join the two fallen idols and leave some disappointed Irish galleries with no home-grown heroes to cheer home on Sunday.

Clarke was disappointed that he’ll likely miss the cut in his first outing since his Royal St George’s triumph.

On a closing bogey five, he said: “I saw the cut was going to be around one under and tried to make my chip, but was too aggressive with it.

“The weekend off is not what I wanted coming here. It will not do me any harm (he went down with the ‘flu after his post-Open celebrations), but I’d much prefer to be playing.

“It’s more mental fatigue than physical fatigue. I was trying, trying, trying and couldn’t get anything going – I couldn’t buy a putt.”

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