Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey are just three shots behind the leaders at the halfway mark of the BMW International Open in Cologne.

The Offaly man birdied the 16th and 18th on his way to a 68, leaving him 12 under for the tournament.

Hoey is level with Lowry after his three-under-par 69 while Damien McGrane (71) made the cut (-4) by a single shot.

Gareth Maybin (70, three-under overall), Kevin Phelan (74, -2), Paul McGinley (71, -1), Peter Lawrie (75, +4) and Simon Thornton (74

Yorkshireman Danny Willett was able to laugh off a stiff neck and shoulder and an amateur-like shank at his last hole as he maintained his share of the lead.

The 26-year-old saw his 155-yard approach to the ninth - the last of his second round - veer wildly off to the right, narrowly clearing the water guarding the adjacent 18th green and coming up just short of the putting surface.

From there the 2012 champion saved par to keep a bogey off his card as he finished with a 68 - matched by playing partner and co-leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello - to post 12 under for 36 holes.

They were later joined by another Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal and Argentinian Emiliano Grillo.

"Twelve under was great score for two days and the shoulder was good early on," Willett, who missed Wednesday's pro-am because of his neck problem, told European Tour Radio.

"I completely forgot to take any pills after nine holes and I could feel it in the last few holes.

"The only thing you can do is laugh as it (the shank) is not something that happens very often."

Cabrera-Bello's round was not without incident either as he called a penalty on himself for a double-hit at the par-five seventh after clipping the ball twice hitting out of the greenside rough, resulting in his only bogey of the day.

Larrazabal, winner in 2011, shot a best of the day 63 which was matched by Wirral golfer Paul Waring who narrowly missed a birdie putt at the last to close on nine under.

Argentinian Grillo was five under through 11 holes but finished with a 66, although that was still good enough for a share of top spot.

Harto was in the pack at 10 under alongside South African Branden Grace, Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, German Alex Cejka, Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Scot Craig Lee.

US Open champion and home favourite Martin Kaymer, on his first appearance since winning his second major at Pinehurst earlier this month, missed the cut after a 73 left him one over.

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