Shane Lowry is making a habit of holing out on some of golf’s most iconic par-threes having added the 17th at TPC Sawgrass to his list of conquests on Sunday evening.
The Offaly man already has the 16th at Augusta National under his belt and now he also has Pete Dye’s infamous island green among his list of hole-in-ones after draining his tee shot in the third round of The Players Championship on Sunday afternoon.
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Arriving at the 123-yard par-three two-under for the tournament after cancelling out a bogey at the par-five 11th with birdies at the par-four 14th and par-five 16th, Lowry struck a perfectly flighted wedge that landed just past the hole and spun back down the slope and into the hole.
The former Open champion reacted as you would expect for an ace at one of the most recognisable holes in golf as the gallery went wild, and he admitted that was one of the most memorable moments of his career so far.
“You play this game, just special things happen sometimes. It’s pretty cool to do it there, one of the most iconic holes in golf. Yeah, what can I say? It was a special thing to happen, and I’m looking forward to turning on my phone and seeing the messages I’ve got,” he grinned.
“Not only that, it put me back in the tournament somewhat. So it was amazing. It’s been a long day today, and I’m glad to make the call and finish well today. Played the 17th hole twice and did it in three shots, so it doesn’t owe me anything.
“I’m excited for tomorrow now. If it’s a long day tomorrow, I can do something hopefully in the morning and finish it off in the afternoon.”
Lowry is indeed right back in the mix as he would back up his hole-in-one with back-to-back birdies to start his inward nine – the front nine – and at four-under thru 14 holes he sits five-under for the tournament and four shots back of leader Anirban Lahiri.
After making the cut on Sunday morning by finishing birdie-birdie on the 17th and 18th in his second round to reach the clubhouse at one-under with a 70, Lowry would start round three on the 10th and would drop an early shot at the 11th.
But after that the only way was up for the 34-year-old, who got that shot back with a seven-footer for birdie at the 14th and then a fine bunker save at the 16th got him another birdie prior to his theatrics at 17.
A failed up-and-down from short of the par-four 18th saw him give one of those shots back at the next hole, but his back nine started superbly when he drained a 41-foot putt for birdie at the first and then backed it up with a two-putt birdie at the par-five second.
Three pars before the hooter sounded for the suspension of play due to darkness has Lowry in a strong position with a bit of momentum behind him and he sits just outside the top-10 heading into what tournament organisers hope will be the final day of the event.
“I just think I need to hit more fairways. I don’t think I’m hitting enough fairways. I struggled the first two rounds, definitely. Today was better, this afternoon was better. If you put the ball in the fairway out there, you’re going to give yourself chances. The greens are soft,” explained the Clara man.
“I’m not sure what the weather conditions are tomorrow but, like I said, hopefully I can get out there and make a few putts and make a few birdies and get another hole-in-one or something!
“It’s been one of those days where I look back on it, and myself and Bo were laughing about it. We’ve done some pretty cool things together, and there’s another one to kind of chuck off the list. Yeah, it was special.”
Seamus Power is also in the mix at three-under, however he was struggling to get his third round really motoring as he played 13 holes in one-under thanks to three birdies and a double-bogey on the Stadium Course.
The Waterford man took advantage of the par-five second for an early birdie, but an approach in the water at the par-four fourth led to the double before another birdie on the par-four fifth following an approach to just four feet saw him turn in level-par.
A two-putt birdie on the par-five 11th saw him at least end the day under-par for his round, but six shots off leader Lahiri and in a share of 32nd, he will hope to pick up the pace when play resumes at 12pm Irish time on Monday afternoon.
It was a struggle for Rory McIlroy, however, who survived the halfway cut as the line fortuitously dropped to two-over to allow him to scrape into the final two rounds, but he couldn’t make the most of it and finished Sunday at three-over after another tough round.
The World No.6 birdied his second hole of his third round, the par-five 11th, but a seven-foot miss for birdie at the 12th preceded back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th and after almost following Lowry into the hole from the tee at the 17th – but only parring it after missing the birdie putt from 11-feet – he would reach the turn in 37 strokes.
The man they’re all chasing is India’s Lahiri, the World No.322 stunning the field by pulling clear at the top after playing the first 11 holes of his third round in five-under-par to set the target at the close of the day’s play at nine-under, one stroke clear of Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III.
The two-time DP World Tour winner, who was at one point in 2015 ranked inside the world’s top-40, took just 31 shots to complete his front-nine and pull clear of the field and even when he dropped his only shot of the day after a wild drive on the par-four 10th, he responded in excellent fashion with a birdie at the par-five 11th to restore his advantage.
“I think the nature of what we do, it’s unpredictable. You just don’t know. You grind away, you keep chipping away, you keep working on your game, and when it clicks, it clicks,” said Lahiri of his form this week as he goes in search of his first PGA Tour win.
“It could be this week, it could be next week. As long as it happens, and that’s the belief you’ve got to have, and that’s the commitment you’ve got to have. I’m just happy that I’m playing well. I’m just happy that I’m hitting my irons well. I’m just happy.
“When you are in that state of mind, you usually play well, and that’s what’s happening.”
Halfway leader Hoge sits one shot back after playing the first nine holes in one-under, consisting of two birdies and a bogey, with Varner III joining him at eight-under with four birdies and two bogeys in his opening nine holes.
Fourteen bogey-free holes that included six birdies has Colombia’s Sebastián Muñoz up to seven-under and just two shots back, the same score that Paul Casey and Sam Burns are on after front-nines of two-under and level-par respectively.
The final group is scheduled to tee off their final round at 5:30pm on Monday evening as tournament organisers hope to conclude the event with just the one day’s delay, which would be a considerable achievement given the amount of disruption earlier in the week due to the weather.
- Full scoring HERE