Shane Lowry’s Masters preparations continue to get a lift with the Open Champion posting a 68 on day three of the Vivint Houston Open in Houston.
Lowry had earlier posted a pair of 69’s to start the day at two-under par and he quickly doubled that in moving to four-under thanks to back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes on the Memorial Park course.
The Clara golfer sent his tee shot at the par-3 second hole to two-and-a-half feet and calmly rolled-in the birdie putt. Lowry then split the fairway at the next, the par-5 third hole and after being short and right of the hole, he chipped from 35-yards to just five-feet and holed the birdie putt.
Then at the par-3 ninth hole, Lowry moved to three-under for his round and five-under for the $US7m event in sinking a four-footer. However, the birdies dried-up in America’s fourth largest city with Lowry sandwiching a 12th hole bogey among eight inward pars.
Lowry’s effort saw him head to the scorer’s hut inside the top-10 at four-under par and he sits T8 heading to the final round.
Fellow Open Champion Padraig Harrington had a rollercoaster round including four birdies and five bogeys but remains just inside the top-30 (T28) having posted a one-over par 71 and drop back to level par.
Masters-bound Graeme McDowell bounced back from a second round 73 in signing for a one-under par 69 and moved back to one-over through 54 holes and into T34 position.
McDowell managed just two birdies in his round at the sixth and 15th holes, and the only dropped shot at 11.
Australia’s Jason Day made a mess of the final hole in three-putting from 19-feet for a bogey ‘5’ and handed now Texas residence, Sam Burns a one-shot lead at nine-under par heading into the final round.
Day, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday on the opening day of this coming week’s Masters, snared five birdies in a three-under 67 but dropped back to eight-under par and one behind Burns.
Burns, yet to win on the PGA Tour capped his round of two-under par 68 with an eagle ‘3’ when his chipped-in from some 87-feet at the par-5 eighth hole.
Despite Days hiccup on 18 he is chasing a 13th Tour victory and a first since capturing the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship ahead of making his way to Augusta and a 10th Masters appearance.
Just three shots back and looking ominous is World No. 1 Dustin Johnson in taking route 66 for a second day and moving to six-under in his first event since the U.S. Open and returning to the Tour after testing positive for COVID-19.
‘DJ’ is not only looking to strengthen his Masters favouritism but also pick-up a fourth Tour success in 2020 and what would be his first of the 2020/21 wraparound schedule.
“This it was my first event since the U.S. Open in competitive golf, so it’s just — it’s a difficult golf course,” he said.
“I was driving it well. I was driving it in the fairway and I was making bogeys from the fairway. Just a little off with the irons, just a little rusty really is all it was just with thinking and, you know, yeah, just rusty from competition.
“I just hadn’t played. At home there’s really nothing that you can do to simulate competition no matter how much you practice or how ready you feel like you are.
“Until you get out here and you’re kind of playing in competition, you don’t really know where your game’s at.
“I like the way I’m playing, I’m swinging well. You know, seeing a lot of similarities of how I was playing back when I was playing really well a couple months ago. It’s nice to get out and get some reps.
“The game’s feeling really good going into next week and obviously we’ve still got another day tomorrow and I feel like I’m in a good position with a chance to win.”