Antrim, Northern Ireland – Gregory Bourdy shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to stay at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the Irish Open.
Bourdy finished 36 holes at 12-under-par 132, and sits in good position to contend for his fourth European Tour title. The Frenchman last won in 2009 at the Hong Kong Open.
He holds a one-stroke lead over Mark Foster, who also carded a 67 at Royal Portrush and is alone in second at minus-11.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington used a 67 to climb into a share of third at 10-under 134, along with Lorenzo Gagli (66) and Paul Waring (65). Jamie Donaldson (67) and Mikael Lundberg (66) are tied for sixth at minus-9.
Bourdy had shared the first-round lead with Jeev Milkha Singh, but Singh managed just a 1-under 71 on Friday and slipped into a tie for eighth at minus-8.
Michael Hoey is the highest-placed Northern Irishman at this point in the tournament. He shot 67 Friday and is tied for 10th at minus-7.
Northern Ireland's contingent of recent major winners are a bit further down the leaderboard. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy (69) and Graeme McDowell (68) are part of a large group in 24th place at minus-5.
British Open champion Darren Clarke (69) is another stroke back in 39th, and made the cut for the first time this season. He took a month off because of a groin injury, and said the time away was beneficial.
"I needed to get away and the injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise," Clarke said. "My golf's not been that bad, but my scoring's been terrible...I've been traveling all round the world trying to fulfil my role as Open champion, but now I'm refreshed."
While Bourdy was able to stay in first place Friday, his round was an up-and- down affair. He got off to a great start, with an eagle at the second hole and a birdie at No. 3, but gave a stroke back with a bogey at No. 4.
He more than made up for that mistake, though, by sinking birdies at three of the final four holes on his front nine. Bourdy followed that run with a birdie at 10, which got him to 13-under.
But he lost his momentum with bogeys at 11 and 14, but birdied No. 17 to stay ahead of the field.
"The second nine was tough. The wind was blowing harder," Bourdy said. "I'm proud about my birdie on the 17th. It's always good to finish well. So I'm very happy to be at 12-under on a course like this."
Foster began on the back nine and birdied his first two holes, but then parred eight in a row to stay at minus-8 before heading to No. 2.
The Englishman put pressure on Bourdy, though, with birdies at two, five and nine.
Harrington, who won this event in 2007 and was runner-up to Ross Fisher two years ago, got into contention with a round strikingly similar to his first. On Thursday, he carded six birdies and a bogey, then repeated the performance Friday.
"Putting for birdie most of the day, didn't really put myself in any trouble," said Harrington, who admitted he wasn't playing with a great deal of confidence. "So it was as stress-free a round of 67 as you could get in those conditions."
Harrington is in search for his first title since 2008.
Waring, who is playing in his first event of the season after recovering from wrist surgery, eagled two holes -- the par-5 ninth and the par-4 15th -- to jump up the leaderboard.
Gagli poured in six front-nine birdies on the way to his 66.
NOTES: Defending champion Simon Dyson shot a round of even-par 72 on Friday and is tied for 24th at minus-5...Bourdy's best finish of the season was a tie for 11th at the Open de Andalucia in March.