Lowry left with mixed emotions after moving day 69 at The Open

John Craven

Shane Lowry (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

John Craven

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Defending Open Champion Shane Lowry feels a one-under par 69 was the worst score he could’ve shot after hitting the ball beautifully on day three of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.

After trading three bogeys with two birdies through a frustrating 15 holes on Saturday, patience paid off in the end for the Clara star who closed with birdies at 16 and 17 before a brave par save at the last; Lowry moving to five-under par for the tournament and into a tie for 12th ahead of the final day.

“I have mixed emotions, to be honest, because I played great,” Lowry said, now seven back of Louis Oosthuizen’s 12-under par lead.

“I left a lot of shots out there. 1-under was probably the worst score I could have shot, which was very disappointing on a day like today because I felt like I could have shot 3, 4, 5-under out there and I would have been right in the tournament.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m kind of proud of myself how I battled back and how I finished. I holed three nice putts on 16, 17, 18. But other than that, I missed four putts, I’d say, inside four or five feet which you can’t do on days like today, which is disappointing. But my game overall was really good — well, my long game tee to green, I was as good as I’ve been all year today, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

With the weather forecast showing little wind and the most benign conditions of the week for Sunday, Lowry feels he’s likely a couple too far back if he’s being realistic about a title defence but given the way he’s hit it, he’s not ruling out a grandstand finish that would at the very least secure the Offaly man his seat on the plane to Wisconsin for a debut Ryder Cup appearance – not that he’s thinking about that.

“Yeah, you know, I’m not sure I can win from here, but the way I’m playing, I can shoot 6-under,” he said. “If 10, 11-under is the winning score, yes, I can obviously win, but I’m not sure.

“I think the winning score is probably going to be better than that. But who knows. I don’t know, to be honest. Look, I’m very happy with how I played today. I’m very happy with how I handled myself when I got behind the black ball. It was very frustrating out there all day today.

“Standing on 15 tee 1-over par playing the golf I was was quite frustrating. To finish how I did, I’m quite, like I said, proud of myself, and the way I battled and even just to hole those three putts at the end gives me a little bit of confidence going forward. And yeah, go into tomorrow now and try and shoot as low a score as I can and try and have the best week I can.”

As for the other Irish in the field, Rory McIlroy matched Lowry’s 69 for a one-under par 54-hole tally while Padraig Harrington carded a 73 to drop to three-over par.

It’s former champ Oosthuizen who tops the pile as he goes in search of a second Major win. The South African carded a one-under 69 to move to 12-under par, one-stroke clear of Collin Morikawa at 11-under and three clear of Jordan Spieth (-9).

“Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of golf left, but it was so great with all the fans there,” said Oosthuizen who holed a raking putt for birdie on 16 before two closing pars.

“It felt like it was a Sunday afternoon really when I made the putt and I was taking the lead. Yeah, you know, I had a few loose swings before that on my iron shots and sort of needed that little boost and made a really good swing on 16 and a few good ones coming in. Yeah, happy with the lead, and need to play some good golf tomorrow.”

Having been pipped to the post by John Rahm at the US Open at Torrey Pines last month, Oosthuizen was asked what he’s learned from so many near-misses down the years that he can take into Sunday’s finale.

“Go one better,” he said. “You know, finishing second isn’t great, so I will play my heart out tomorrow and see if I can lift the Claret Jug again.”

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