Shane Lowry followed up his late late show on Friday evening with a moving day four-under 68 to climb to seven-under at the Horizon Irish Open.
Lowry is four shots off the lead at the time of writing with overnight leader Jorge Campillo about to get his third round underway.
After the Clara native birdied his last four holes to make the cut and prompt the gallery to let rip an old Irish Open roar, a packed gallery flocked to the fairways at 8.30 this morning to see could he do it again.
Four birdies in a six-hole stretch lifted the 35-year-old to seven-under after gains on the 5th, 7th, 8th and 10th and the crowd began to get excited and expectant that perhaps the 2009 Irish Open winner could battle his way into contention with another fast finish.
The course was playing very soft after a deluge of Friday evening rain with some pins tucked away and Lowry was unable to make any further ground with a bogey on 16 and two-putt birdie on 17, but he was pleased overall and is confident ahead of the Open Championship in a fortnight.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played today,” said Lowry. “I would have liked to shoot two or three better especially after the tenth but I never really got it going on the back nine, hit some nice shots but didn’t get rewarded for them.
“The crowd was incredible, I had a lovely morning with Stevie a good friend of mine and I think he enjoyed it and it’s incredible the tee times worked out well with me and Paddy early and Seamus in the afternoon. It has been a great week so far,” added the 2019 Open Champion.
After the disappointment of a missed cut at the US Open and a lacklustre opening round at Mount Juliet on Thursday, Lowry is purring again following his second and third rounds and there is no shortage of belief from the Offaly man heading to the Home of Golf for the final major of the year as he looks to end a three-year winless drought since he lifted the Claret Jug in Portrush.
“It just gives you the freedom to go and play golf. If I hadn’t won in Portrush and I was sitting here now lying in this place in the world rankings you’d be asking me if I had what it takes to win in St Andrews in a couple of weeks whereas I know I have what it takes.
“I just need to be patient and wait for it to happen because I believe it will happen again and I am playing good enough golf to win at that level again. Hopefully I will have a number of chances over the next few years and I would be very grateful if it was in two weeks time in St Andrews.
“If I shoot four or five-under tomorrow I can take that with me. Obviously this course isn’t the best preparation for an Open with how soft it’s playing but I think trying to find confidence in my own game.
“I hit pretty much every shot I wanted to so it’s nice to walk off a golf course after that. I’m absolutely not searching for anything it’s just about maintaining,” added Lowry who will spend some time with friends taking in rounds of golf in Portmarnock and Baltray having practiced at the latter before winning in Portrush.
Pádraig Harrington was solid if unspectacular in his third round as he posted a one-under 71 to move to four-under and a share of 47th.
The round was tinged with disappointment however as he saw a three-foot birdie putt on 18 slide by.
The three-time major winner made the ideal start with an opening birdie after stitching a wedge to three feet but dropped shots on six and seven halted his momentum and killed any hopes of a charge.
The US Senior Open winner birdied the tenth, fourteenth and seventeenth with a bogey arriving on 12 in a solid homeward effort of 34.
Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney was in the second pairing alongside Marcus Armitage at 7.04 am and he had an eventful level-par 72.
The Dubliner who has made five of his six cuts on the DP World Tour this season roared out of the traps with a brace of birdies before adding another on the fifth.
A dropped shot on the very gettable par-5 10th gave way to a barren spell of three bogeys and a birdie in four holes as he came home in 39 to remain at –2.
Kearney still has lots to play for on Sunday as he bids to gain his full playing rights at the end of the season.
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