Shane Lowry will bid to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for a second time after grasping a share of the lead on day three at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
The Offaly man posted a six under par round of 66, which included a hole-out eagle at the par four sixth, to reach 13 under par and he is joined on that number by overnight co-leader Francesco Molinari and Australian Min Woo Lee, who also posted a round of 66 on moving day.
“On the sixth, I had 162 yards and looked like at the time there wasn’t much wind, it was just a nice 8-iron. I was just trying to cut it off the flag but hit it straight at it. Once bouncing in, it was a Brucie Bonus because I had given myself a few chances early doors and didn’t really hole much.
In near perfect conditions, Lowry started well in making the turn at five under par but found it trickier to make the putts drop on the back nine, birdieing the 15th before responding to his only dropped shot of the day at the 17th with a closing birdie as he bids for a second Falcon Trophy following his 2019 triumph.
“It felt great to be honest, especially at 17. I didn’t hit that bad a shot on 17. It just never really moved in the wind. You know, it was one of the only times I was out of position all day, really, so you kind of have to take that.
“It’s nice to go out on a Saturday, in tricky conditions coming in on the back nine and to put myself in there for tomorrow is pretty nice.
“First tournament of the year, you don’t know what’s going to happen. My thing would be I try and give myself as many chances to win as I can, and at some stage, hopefully it happens.
“Tomorrow I’ve got a chance to go out there and do something special, so hopefully I can bring the game that I brought the last few days and roll a few putts in as well and you never know.”
Lee, Lowry and Molinari – all previous Rolex Series winners – will comprise the final group at the season-opening Rolex Series event with the Irishman and the Italian facing off for the second Sunday in succession after they led out their respective teams in the Singles at last week’s Hero Cup.
The leading trio are one stroke clear of Scotland’s Grant Forrest, Frenchman Victor Perez and Sweden’s Sebastian Söderberg, who share fourth on 12 under par and are all chasing their maiden Rolex Series wins.
Three-time Major Champion Pádraig Harrington, who would become the oldest winner in DP World Tour history should he triumph on Sunday, shares seventh place alongside Poland’s Adrian Meronk, Italian Guido Migliozzi and Frenchman Antoine Rozner on 11 under par, two shots off the lead.
It was a tough day for Tom McKibbin who had to return to play his final few holes as darkness forced play to be halted on Friday night. McKibbin was two shots inside the cut line playing the Par 5 18th but a double bogey 7 left the Holywood man missing the cut by one shot in his first career Rolex Series event.