Shane Lowry carded a six-under 66 in the second round to propel himself into contention at the BMW PGA Championship in a boost to his attempts to hold on to the final Ryder Cup automatic qualification spot.

The 2019 Open champion moves up to eight under overall at Wentworth, four shots off leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat ahead of the final two rounds and in a tie for eighth.

Aphibarnrat carded a 68 to move up to 12 under, one clear of Laurie Canter who managed a 66 to briefly take the lead before the Thai golfer topped the overnight standings after birdies on 16 and 17.

Graeme McDowell's 69 has the Portrush golfer on four under as next best of the Irish contenders.

Europe Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington finished on two over after a 74, one shot behind Cormac Sharvin (69) and two adrift of Jonathan Caldwell (73), who both also miss the cut.

Lowry came into Friday's action off the back of a solid 70 and the Offaly native started strongly with four birdies on two, four, six and eight.

The momentum stalled slightly on the back nine with a bogey on 15 after a birdie on 14. But Lowry finished strongly with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18, which meant he matched Canter's 66 as he looked to cement his place in the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying places and secure a coveted debut at Whistling Straits later this month.

Bernd Wiesberger, who is the biggest threat to Lowry and Lee Westwood's places in Harrington's Ryder Cup team, had been three over par after six holes of his first round, but finished birdie, eagle and added a superb 67 on Friday to end the day inside the top 20 on six under, two shots behind Lowry.

The Austrian could overtake Rory McIlroy in the European points list with a top-50 finish or better.

That would mean McIlroy qualifies via the world points list instead of Lowry, who in turn could knock England's Westwood out with a top-eight finish or better, depending on Westwood's result.

Padraig Harrington and Tyrell Hatton during round two

Lowry insisted that he was "not anxious" about his chances of making the European selection.

"There's almost too many points available, especially for someone like me who is in the team," he said after his round.

"It is what it is. We've known it for a couple of years. I'm just out there to do a job. I'm out there to try to win the tournament and play as best I can and, come Sunday evening, hope I'm on the team automatically.

"If I'm not, I hope I get a pick. I feel pretty laid back about it. I'm not anxious about the whole thing.

"I feel like I've played really well over the last while and consistently well and I feel like I've put my hand up. It's up to Paddy what he wants to do on Sunday evening."

Westwood, who praised Lowry's focus, was on course to miss the cut when he covered the front nine in 37 to fall back to level par, but made four birdies on the back nine to record a second-successive 70.

"I'm here to try and win the BMW PGA Championship and Sunday night, if you're in the team, then you start thinking about the Ryder Cup," Westwood said.

"There's so many variables as well with the way we've set up the qualification this time around. This tournament is heavily loaded compared to everything else we've done and I think it's something to maybe look at in the future.

"You can see how players are reacting to it out on the golf course. You know there's people right in there and they are shooting scores where clearly they have got other things on their mind.

"I've played with Shane, he's managed to block everything out well and play well and Shane Lowry is the kind of player that you want on your Ryder Cup team. I'm pleased to see him play well."