Shane Lowry's "roller-coaster" career is on the climb again and the Irishman is enjoying every minute.

A year after being 90th in the world and sacking his caddie Dermot Byrne, the 32-year-old is tied for the lead in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush, 167 miles up the road from the family home in Clara, County Offaly.

In the interceding 12 months Lowry has risen to 33rd in the rankings, having won in Abu Dhabi in January and finished joint eight at the US PGA in May.

The last time Lowry, whose biggest win to date was the WGC Bridgestone in 2015, was in this kind of major spotlight was at the 2016 US Open in Oakmont, where he led by four heading into the final round only to produce a trio of three-putts on the back nine to hand victory to Dustin Johnson.

Lowry carded a second consecutive 67 at Royal Portrush to join American JB Holmes on eight under par, with Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood a shot behind.

Olympic champion Justin Rose is a stroke further back alongside Cameron Smith and Justin Harding, with world number one Brooks Koepka ominously poised on five under in pursuit of a fifth major win in his last 10 starts.

Former champion Jordan Spieth was alongside Koepka after a 67, but Tiger Woods missed the halfway cut despite battling back from his worst ever opening round in the Open with a battling 70.

Lowry, who had stormed into a two-stroke lead with six birdies in his first 10 holes before dropping shots on the 14th and 18th, said: "I had a great time today, it was just unbelievable. One of those days where you find yourself pinching yourself.

"I can't explain how good the crowds were, a day that I'll remember. Walking down 18 was something special. I'm a bit disappointed to bogey the last but I'm right where I wanted to be and delighted with my two days' work.

"I'm in a great position going into the weekend of an Open Championship but there's two long days left. There are times when it's not going to be easy and I've just got to take it on the chin."

Asked about the enormous support he will receive over the weekend, the 32-year-old from Offaly added: "Next week I'l be in Memphis and there'll probably be 10 men and a dog following me.

"Tomorrow there's going to be thousands cheering me on so I'm going to enjoy it."

But with all his experience Lowry knows he cannot afford to get ahead of himself.

"I'm obviously going to be thinking about it tonight," he said when asked about the prospect of winning the Claret Jug.

"There's no point in shying away from it. I'm in a great position. But, my God, have we got a long way to go.

"I've won big tournaments before, and I've shot some good scores and I'm in a familiar place. I know the surroundings. I feel pretty comfortable here this week.

"I suppose I struggled at The Open in Carnoustie last year. I didn't have my caddie that I had for nine years and I was very down about how things were and I wasn't in a great place mentally.

"I'm in a totally different place now, it's chalk and cheese.

"As a golfer you have such a long career. I've been 10 years now and it's just a roller coaster.

"I think the reason I'm so good mentally now is I know - I think - how to take the downs.

"I feel like the roller coaster ride is going to be there. Hopefully I have it for another 15, 20 years. You've got to enjoy the good times and take the bad times on the chin."

IRISH ROUND-UP