Lowry held a two shot lead ahead of overnight leader JB Holmes, but two bogeys on the way in during a fine round of 67 meant he came back alongside the American, with whom he’ll play in the final group on Saturday.
McIlroy went into the second round with no pressure after buckling as the favourite and shooting 79 on the opening day at Royal Portrush, where he shot the old course record in 2005.
After a slow start the four time major champion started the back nine with three consecutive birdies. A dropped shot on the par three, 13th was rectified on the next hole but after the Northern Irishman’s approach to the 15th found the sand he could only make par and was running out of time.
A stunning tee shot on the 16th, named ‘Calamity’, left McIlroy another birdie chance on the par three, a chance taken to move within one shot of the cut with two to play. The 17th, a driveable par four, presented another chance before the 30-year-old’s drive found the rough down the right.
He managed to save his par there, meaning a birdie was needed down the last. An iron off the tee was safe and well positioned and left him 200-yards into the final green. The approach, however, was caught, according to McIlroy, by the wind and fell left. A chip in the only way to save the day, but that was too much. His dream Open was over before the weekend.
Englishmen Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood are one back from the leaders after rounds of 67 as they both search for their first major title.
“I’m playing well, I’m more relaxed,” said Westwood, who has 24 wins on the European Tour.
“I literally don’t care. I just go out there and have fun.
“I’m 46 and still competing with these young lads. There’s no pressure on me.
“If you play well you get yourself chances at majors.”
Tiger Woods insisted his injuries were not as bad as they seemed after he missed the cut, despite putting together a much improved round of 70.
Here is the leaderboard after day two of the 148th Open Championship…
A valiant effort from McIlroy but the home crowds will at least have an Irishman in the final group tomorrow.
Shane Lowry shares the lead atop a tantalising leaderboard going into the weekend while there is the chance for Lee Westwood to end his major duck at long last just one shot back.
Join Standard Sport bright and early tomorrow for coverage of round three at Royal Portrush.
McIlroy’s Open is over
Such a difficult pitch and he can’t get it down, that is that.
A par at the last, a stunning round of 65 but just not enough.
How costly was 16?
That daft, daft four putt on the par three yesterday seems oh so costly now for Rory McIlroy.
He has 200 left, but it is left. Rory says the wind caught it but there doesn’t look to be a lot out there.
A chip in it is…
Here we go
Iron off the tee at the last for McIlroy, and it is good, right in the heart of the fairway.
One to go, one shot needed
Par at the 17th there for Rory and he needs to pick up one more shot down the last.
Get it in the fairway and you would back him to do it.
The 17th is a driveable par four, especially for someone with McIlroy’s power, but his drive just catches the rough down the right.
Par here and then go for it down the last has to be the plan, two over looking less likely to be enough right now.
Fowler going well
Rickie Folwer has been going along very nicely, he’s five back from the leaders after a fourth birdie of the day at 15.
Three under for the week.
McIlroy one away
He makes it!
About 15 feet for birdie, left to right a touch, and he rolls it straight in, these roars are getting louder and louder.
McIlroy goes for the brave line, starts it right and draws it into the pin, he’s got a great look at birdie here.
Nice name for a hole to be standing on knowing you really need something special.
That is what Rory is facing. Par three, don’t go right.
Double for DeChambeau
A double-bogey on the par three, 16th for Bryson and his Open over.
He moves to five over par with two to play.
Rory saves par
McIlroy saves par.
Two shots to make up in three holes.
Rory has the perfect line for an approach into 15 but it’s got too much on it and finds the sand in the greenside bunker.
He’ll need to get up and down and he’s running out of holes.
Predicted cut line
The cut line is currently sat at +1, but given the amount of players still out there coming over a tricky stretch, it could easily slip down to +2.
More hope for McIlroy.
Listen to that!
A huge roar goes up around the 14th green as McIlroy bounces straight back to move within two shots of the cut line.
The putt was dropping from the moment he hit it.
Xander Schauffele is putting together quite the round.
A birdie on 17 takes him to six under for his round and three under for the week.
Fine stuff from the American.
Birdie chance again
Rory is putting us through the ringer, a laser six-iron on the par four, 14th and he has the chance to get that dropped shot back straight away.
Not enough on the par putt and McIlroy is back to four over, three outside the cut line.
Big putt to save par
McIlroy is in the sand on the par three, 13th and his pitch out the bunker is unfortunate not to catch the hole and slow down.
Runs well on by and he’s got 15-20 feet to save his par.
A dropped shot would be a nightmare right now.