Hatton’s five under equalled Jimmy Bruen???s course record at Royal County Down set in 1939, with the 23-year-old carding an eagle and six birdies on another tough day of scoring conditions.
The Englishman started eagle-birdie-birdie and also chipped in at the 13th to become one of only nine players heading in to the weekend under par, while tournament host Rory McIlroy missed the cut for the third year in succession after a second round 71.
Richie Ramsay threatened to take over at the top of the leaderboard when he reached four under par with five holes remaining, but the Scot bogeyed his final hole and had to settle for a superb 67 to join Hatton, Bernd Wiesberger, Soren Kjeldsen and late-finisher Rafa Cabrera-Bello on three under.??
“I got off to a great start and that was the key for me,” Hatton said.??”Thankfully I kept it going and had a good finish.
“I had a sixth in Abu Dhabi and was eighth in China so it hasn’t been a bad??season, but I haven’t been really close to the leaders so I am looking forward??to the weekend.”
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was frustrated not to have put himself in a commanding position to win a second Irish Open title, adding a 73 to his first round 67 to lie one shot back alongside Luke Donald.
Harrington briefly enjoyed a five-shot advantage when he picked up a third birdie of the round on the par-four first, but played the remaining eight holes in five over.
“I’m pleased to be in contention but I would have preferred to be seven or eight under par and in a good position to move away from the field,” Harrington said. ???I’m now in a position where I need to play well over the weekend and not have anything go against me.
???There will be a lot of people who just make the cut who will think they can win now that I’ve come back to the pack. It will be a tougher weekend and I won’t have the luxury of any more bad runs.”
A final hole birdie from Matt Ford was enough to keep him under par for the week and one clear of Rickie Fowler, who was disappointed to drop shots at the 16th and 18th.??
Shane Lowry’s round of 74 was one of the day???s most impressive, as the 2009 champion broke his putter on the third hole of the day and putted with a wedge for the last 15, while Andy Sullivan is also through??after holing his 259-yard second shot at the par-five first with a two iron for an albatross.??