Shane Lowry showed his mettle battling his way through quintessentially difficult Alfred Dunhill Links Championship conditions and also post Ryder Cup fatigue to be just three shots from the lead heading to the final round in the 20th anniversary hosting of the event.
Lowry let slip a chance of ending the day second on his own as he missed a short birdie putt at the last, in what was still an impressive five-under par 67 for an 11-under par tally in wet, windy and cold conditions at the Home of Golf.
Lowry, with his proud father Brendan watching-on, joined Kinsale’s John Murphy, who also shot a 67, along with double Dunhill winning Tyrrell Hatton (71) and Richard Bland (64) sharing second place,
The foursome trail three adrift of Danny Willett who was also on the Old Course and signed for a bogey-free 66 to move to 14-under par.
Lowry got off to an absolute flyer in taking full advantage of the downwind holes to post four birdies in succession from the second before turning into the wind to birdie the par-3 eighth hole and make the turn at five-under par for his round.
He dropped a shot on 10 ahead of a super birdie at the 16th and a pair of closing pars.
“There’s a bit of fatigue, all right”, said Lowry when asked how he was feeling following the events of last week and in having to battle the third-round conditions.
“The weather has been a bit different from last week to this week, but it’s still a big tournament in its own right, and I want to — I’m a competitor. I’m a competitive person. When I come to play, I want to do well. So, I’m out there giving it my all.
“The back nine was playing incredibly tough, and I would’ve taken — I shot level par in the back nine with a bad bogey on 10. I would have taken that standing on the 10th tee. It was like the rain started coming in, it was quite cold out there, and the ball was going nowhere.
“But, yeah, I’m able to deal with that, I’m able to do it. I hit some nice shots, and gave myself a couple of chances.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t hole that one on the last putt. You know, I’m very happy with my day’s work.
“Overall, I’ve managed to play some nice golf over the last three days, I’m in a nice position now going into tomorrow, and I look forward to it.”
Indeed, a win at the Home of Golf would see Lowry head to next year’s 150th Open Championship a last-up winner on the Old Course.
“Anybody that’s involved in golf or into golf and has been here knows that this place is probably one of the most special places in the world, if not the most special place”, said Lowry.
“So to be able to lift the trophy on that green will be incredible”.
Lowry, along with his father, some friends and his Horizon Sports manager, is spending the week renting premises at Links House that overlooks the 18th green at the Old Course.
And with those eagerly awaiting Lowry to join them, he commented smiling: “I think I’ll have to run away from them tonight. I could get them in trouble with my ma”.
— Fatiha Sahnoune & Bernie McGuire (@TOURMISS) October 2, 2021