Shane Lowry finds himself just two shots off the lead after carding an impressive round of 72 in extremely testing conditions early on Friday at the Abu HSBC Championship.

Four shots off the lead overnight after a strong opening round of 67, Lowry slipped back to three-under at one point before two birdies on his closing four holes, plus an 11-foot par putt on the last ensured he remained at five-under overall.

Beginning on the 10th, the 2019 Open Champion reached the turn in even par, an early birdie on the 12th cancelled out by a bogey on the 16th.

ABU DHABI HSBC CHAMPIONSHIP

Lowry struggled early on his back nine, a three-putt on the 3rd and a poor approach on the 5th resulting in bogeys. However, successive birdies on 6 and 7 and a fine scrambling par on the 9th helped get him back to even par for the day, two off the tournament lead currently held by Scott Jamieson and lying fifth on his own.

Overnight leader Jamieson entered round two at nine-under but moved backwards in windy conditions at Yas Links, like many of the rest of the field.

The Scot briefly had a four-shot advantage on Friday but bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes meant he could not repeat his error-free performance from the opening day, following his 63 with a 74.

A trio of players lie one stroke further back on six-under-par. Ian Poulter, who matched Lowry's 72 on Friday, Victor Hovland, who carded a 74, and James Morrison who was level par thru 14 holes until play was suspended due to darkness.

Further back the field, Padraig Harrington got back to even par for the championship after a round of 71, one of the strongest performances on Friday thus far - bested only by Jeff Winther's 69.

The three-time major champion began with successive birdies on 10 and 11, swiftly undoing that good work with a double-bogey on 12. A birdie on the par-3 17th got him to the turn in one-under for the round.

Seven pars in a row followed before a birdie-bogey finish, leaving him almost certain of a place in the field for the weekend.

Rory McIlroy birdied the 18th hole to complete a hard-fought three-over 75 on a day of persistent strong wind and gusts of up to 35mph.

McIlroy had been comfortably inside the cut line when he holed from five feet for an eagle on the par-five seventh, but he dropped four shots in five holes from the 13th before getting up and down from 44 yards on the last.

That took the four-time major winner on to the projected cut mark of three-over-par, although that could change with more than 30 players unable to complete the second round on schedule on Friday.