Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry maintain Zurich Classic lead, ready to “stroll” Bourbon Street

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry decimated TPC Louisiana to open the Zurich Classic, tying the low rounds of the day by shooting an 11-under 61 during the first round of best ball.

Their second round, which employs an alternate shot format, did not come as easily. The all-Irish duo combined to shoot a 2-under 70 on Friday, not bad considering the difficulty of alternate shot and the blustery conditions.

But their score should have been two or three strokes lower.

“I had missed a few [putts] around the turn,” Lowry said. “I missed a pretty short one on 18 and then another one on the second.”

The short miss on 18 hurt, especially since the Irish had put themselves in a prime position to make a birdie on the 572-yard par-5. Another short miss on the par-5 2nd followed.

Zurich Classic

Shane Lowry after missing a putt during the second round of the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Walking over to the 3rd tee, McIlroy and Lowry were at 1-under for the day and 12-under for the tournament. But Lowry, clearly rattled by his misses, hit a poor tee shot on the par-3 3rd, which led to another bogey.

“After those, it’s easy to sort of get hard on yourself, and I was just trying to keep him as positive as possible and just remind him that I’m here and I’m here to back him up in any way that I can,” McIlroy said.

“Just trying to keep him positive.”

McIlroy’s encouragement clearly helped Lowry, who then came in the clutch on the par-4 4th. He drained a par putt there to help build momentum going down the stretch.

“I started to get a little bit into myself, but to roll that one in was nice, and to play the last few holes the way we did was really nice, too,” Lowry said.

“I think a bit of a lesson there for myself to keep going and just keep trying and keep plugging away. We did that today, and I’m pretty happy with how we finished.”

The Irish played well over their last few holes, thanks in part to McIlroy’s exquisite length. Lowry set up McIlroy nicely on the par-5 7th, as the Northern Irishman’s second shot barely trickled over the green. An easy birdie then followed.

On the next hole, McIlroy unloaded his drive into the greenside bunker—a par-4 that measures 372 yards. Lowry then hit a spectacular bunker shot, leading McIlroy to drain the short birdie and jump up to 13-under and into a share of the lead.

Rory McIlroy, Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Rory McIlroy hits a tee shot during the second round of the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

McIlroy’s length and Lowry’s finesse came in handy, as the Irish finished birdie, birdie, par.

“Shane has got a wonderful short game,” McIlroy added. “He gives me confidence going for those greens, whether it be the par-4s or the par-5s, and if I get it anywhere up there around the green, I’m going to have a very good look for birdie after he hits his.”

Following their round, Lowry was asked about his comments Thursday regarding a visit to the French Quarter.

“No, no, no. We’re here to play a golf tournament. We’ll enjoy ourselves. We’ll go for a nice dinner tonight,” Lowry said. “I’ll go back to the hotel, freshen up, and go for a little stroll around the city.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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