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RORY BACKS ROSS.

Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY

RORY McIlroy last night admitted the 3 Irish Open was Ross Fisher's to lose - after the Englishman shot a sensational 61 to gain a four-shot lead at halfway in Killarney.

McIlroy leads the Irish challenge five shots back with Padraig Harrington and Michael Hoey, while Italian Francesco Molinari is Fisher's nearest challenger on nine under.

Fisher took the Killeen course apart yesterday morning and a first-ever 59 on the European Tour was on the cards as he needed two birdies from his final four holes, which included a possible eagle opportunity on the 16th.

However he finished with four pars, just missing a putt for a 60 on the last green as another bumper crowd of 17,396 looked on.

"It all really depends on what Ross does," said the 21-year-old, left. "He showed at the European Open a few years ago that he can run away with championships - he won that by seven or eight shots."

McIlroy had a second successive roller-coaster round that included six birdies and three bogeys, including a superb chip-in birdie.

That was the story for a succession of Irish players, as Harrington and Paul McGinley endured a helter-skelter round to remain in contention while defending champ Shane Lowry shot out of nowhere with a 65 to give himself a chance - but he's eight shots back from Fisher.

SEE PAGES 60&61
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2010
Words:230
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