Shane Lowry says his improved putting is key to a weekend charge at the Honda Classic

The Open champion believes greater confidence on the greens can fuel his challenge for victory at PGA National

Shane Lowry has plenty in his favour at this week's Honda Classic and, after 36 holes, things are working out well.

The Open champion lives just five minutes from the course, PGA National.

He's coming off an impressive tied eighth place at last week's prestigious PLAYERS Championship.

And a turnaround in his putting is helping convince the Irishman that a first win since Royal Portrush is just around the corner.

Lowry will go into the weekend in a tie for fifth place after rounds of 67 and 66. That's five shots behind leader Aaron Wise but just two shots off second place.

And perhaps no-one left the course on Friday with a bigger spring in their step than the 33-year-old after he put an exclamation mark on a hot closing nine with a walk-off eagle at 18.

On the stats, Lowry ranks 9th for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green: that's impressive but not unexpected for such a great ball-striker.

But the difference maker is his performance on the greens.

Lowry ranks a rather miserable 148th in Strokes Gained: Putting this season. But he's been changing the script in the last two weeks.

At TPC Sawgrass, he registered positive SGP numbers in three of his four rounds to rank T35 for his four days' work at THE PLAYERS,

And so far in the Honda Classic, Lowry is 21st for SG: Putting, gaining 1.219 strokes in round one and 1.354 in round two.

With the putter now playing its part, Lowry is a big danger going into the weekend.

It shows in the betting and Paddy Power make him 7/1 to lift the trophy.

Here, Lowry talks through those putting improvements and his thoughts with 36 holes to play.

Click here for the leaderboard

On coming home in 31 and completing a 66 by chipping in for eagle at 18

"Yeah, I said let's go up there and chip this one in. But I had a bit of a mud ball on my second shot so I was trying to be a little bit clever and obviously not hit in the water and try and leave myself in a good spot, so I was kind of aiming over there toward that bunker and, yeah, it was a straightforward enough chip. I was nice and aggressive with it and got it to the hole and thankfully it went in and it puts me in a great position going into the weekend."

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Thoughts on his second round

"You know, just kind of coming on from last week, a good week, a bit of confidence. Coming out here, a course I like playing, I knew it was going to be tough but a little bit of confidence goes a long way with me. I didn't drive the ball great yesterday but every other part of my game was pretty good and I felt like I drove it a little bit better today. There's a northerly wind coming in on the weekend, so it will be interesting out there, but I'm looking forward to it."

On enjoying playing in tough conditions

"Look, it's the reason I play this tournament because it generally plays so tough. Yeah, I like to come down here and grind it out for a few days and hopefully see myself at the top of the leaderboard. I've shot some decent scores here in the past, I've not put four really good ones together, so I'm just hoping I can do that over the weekend. But it's going to be tough, it's going to take a lot of patience, a lot of skill, and a lot of good golf, and hopefully I have it all."

On the boost of making eagle at 18

"Even though it's quite an intimidating hole, 17 was playing quite easy today. It was a wedge and I made bogey there which was disappointing. And I wanted to birdie the last to get it back and shoot 67, but it's nice to kind of chip-in for eagle. I left myself in a nice spot. I said walking up 18, I said, let's go and chip this one in and thankfully I did."

On what he's found in his game at THE PLAYERS and his first two rounds here

"I'm just putting well or nicely, better than I have been. I'm holing out. I have a little bit of confidence. I'm seeing my lines, I'm seeing the ball going in. And I changed my grip before THE PLAYERS and it just kind of felt comfortable and it's been working the last couple of weeks and I just kind of, not that I'm hopeful because I'm confident that I'm able to do it, but hopefully it just keeps going,

"I don't feel like I fully have it all down yet, so it's something that I feel like I can work on going forward and something like I feel like I can improve on. I'm actually quite excited about it because I do feel like if I can become a more consistent putter, I can become a more consistent golfer and have higher finishes and maybe win a couple more times and stuff like that. So it's exciting, yeah."

On the change his putting grip

"I've been left hand low my whole career and I've gone right hand low the last couple of weeks. So it's a big change to make, but over the watchful eye of my coach, I did it and it's working, but, look, who knows, you don't know with this game. I'm happy with what I shot today, I need to regroup tonight now, go have some dinner, chill out in the morning, and come out here and shoot the best score I can tomorrow and hopefully it's a good one."

On whether the putter grip change was a feel thing or a technical thing

"Just a feel thing. So technically I'm probably better, you know, if you go on all these machines and stuff, I'm probably better left hand low in my stroke, but right hand low I can putt with a bit more feel and a bit more visualisation and that just makes it kind of easier for me.

"Like, I'm a good chipper of the ball, and it was frustrating me because I'm chipping the ball so well at the minute that I couldn't start the ball on line from six feet. And I just couldn't get my head around it. So I said to my coach, I said if I can chip it off a down slope off a tight lie to a tight pin close, how can I not start a 6-footer on line. So that's why I went that way and just started putting that way and, look, it's worked so far, but we'll see."

READ MORE: Halfway hut at the Honda Classic: A Wise move as Lowry lurks

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