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Fisher leads after blistering 61 in Irish Open

Ross Fisher lit up the second day of the Irish Open with a superb 61.
Ross Fisher lit up the second day of the Irish Open with a superb 61.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ross Fisher cards 10-under 61 to lead Irish Open by three shots at halfway
  • Englishman has chances to set a European Tour record 59 in Killarney
  • Italian Francesco Molinari in second place after a 66
  • Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington in group tied for third at seven-under

(CNN) -- England's Ross Fisher has a three-shot halfway lead at the Irish Open after charging to a second round 10-under 61 at Killarney Golf Club in County Kerry.

The 2009 World Match Play champion carded six straight birdies on a front nine of 29 and had chances to break the magic 60 barrier on Friday after four further birdies.

But the 29-year-old Fisher missed a six-foot birdie putt on the 15th, could only par the long 16th and closed with two more pars.

His superlative round gave him a 12-under total of 130 with Francesco Molinari of Italy his nearest challenger on nine-under, but Fisher knew he had missed an opportunity to make golf history with a 59.

"Not until I got onto the 14th did I think 'If I knock this in I've got a chance', so I was a bit annoyed when I missed the putt on 15 and after the 16th I thought I've got to do it the hard way," he told the official European Tour website.

The Ryder Cup was one of the goals I set myself and I want to be on that team
--Ross Fisher
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"It didn't happen, but I'll take 61. It's been coming for a while -- that's as good as I've putted since the Match Play and that's all I've been struggling with.

"It's been a frustrating year. The Ryder Cup was one of the goals I set myself and I want to be on that team. I want Monty to be looking at me and if I still need a pick at the end then hopefully I will be one of the fortunate ones."

Molinari, who is also pressing for a Ryder Cup place, added a second round 66 to his 67, finishing with a fine birdie on the 18th.

A nine-strong group is tied for third on seven-under 135, including Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, who is bidding for his home title.

Darren Clarke remained in contention after a 71 for six-under, but overnight leader David Howell of England double-bogeyed the first and 10th to slip from seven under to three under with a 75.

"I played rubbish -- as bad as I was good yesterday," he said. "I got off to the worst start and just swung the club poorly."

U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and two-time PGA Tour winner this season Justin Rose were in the clubhouse on the cut mark of level-par 142.