Lowry just a few shots shy of a decent top-10 finish at the Valspar

Bernie McGuire

Shane Lowry (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Shane Lowry finds himself just three shots shy of what would be a decent top-10 finish at the Valspar Championship near Tampa in Florida.

Lowry added a second straight three-under-par 68 on day three of the $7.8m event to be in 16th place at eight-under on the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort.

Meanwhile American Davis Riley made the most of golf’s traditional ‘moving day’ with an impressive bogey-free, nine-under-par 62, highlighted by an outward nine of five-under and then birdied three holes from the 11th to 14th.

The 25-year-old Davis, born in Mississippi is competing in his rookie PGA Tour season, having won twice on the secondary KornFerry Tour.  Riley also is currently ranked 399th on the World Rankings.  His best finish in 13 events on the wraparound 2021/22 schedule has been a share of seventh last October in the Bermuda Championship.

“Winning twice on the Korn Ferry in 2020, was a really good experience for me, just getting in contention, he said. “No matter the stage, it’s hard to win a golf tournament. Just being in contention and having those, that blood flowing is huge. Any time you can get just a pinch of that and get that experience is huge, and just winning twice served me well.

“And then having some really good pairings, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Jason Day, where they’re having those big crowds, just having those experiences early in the year really helped me today and just because it’s so easy, it is a little bit of nerves but it’s just like you have adrenaline going so you’re starting to hit the ball a little bit further and it’s just like different just trying to navigate that and I was prepared for that today and those experiences really helped me”.

Compatriot Matthew NeSmith, who equalled Padraig Harrington’s course record of 61 on day two and enjoyed a 36-hole two-shot lead, could only manage a third day two-under-par 69 that included the South Carolina-born player being four-under for his outward nine but then came home in a golfing ambulance over his inward that included two birdies but also four bogeys.

Defending champ Sam Burns, with a score of 67, along with Justin Thomas, who signed for a 66, share third place at 15-under while 2017 Canadian-born champ Adam Hadwin (70) is in fifth place at 13-under.

Lowry went into day three having produced a bogey-free 68 on day two but frustratingly for the 2019 Open Champion he was only one-under for his closing nine holes and, in fact, ended with eight straight pars.

His opening holes on day three were pretty much a mirror of that back nine on Friday, with Lowry also managing just one birdie, and that was in holing a 12-footer at the par-3 fourth hole.

Lowry made the turn at six-under for the tournament and moved to seven-under when he birdied the par-5 11th, and for the second time in three days, and on this occasion when he comfortably two-putted from 24-feet.

He then advanced to nine-under with birdies at 15 and 16, including sending a 22-footer at the par-3 15th to the bottom of the cup, and then at the first hole of the three-hole stretch known as the Snake Pit, Lowry superbly again found the centre of the cup with a 32-foot birdie.

However, the Snake Pit jumped-up to bite him at the par-3 17th when he found the greenside bunker short of the green for a bogey and his eventual score of 68 for an eight-under 54-hole tally.

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