Shane Lowry admitted he was disappointed to sign for a 67 after he was unable to build on his blistering start to his third round of the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth.
Lowry breezed to the turn in four-under after birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth to move to eight-under-par and within four of the lead but when he birdied 18 to move to nine-under he found himself seven shots shy of the ever impressive Ludvig Åberg.
“Played pretty nice. Got off to a great start. 4-under through nine is pretty good. Should be able to make your score better on the back nine,” explained Lowry who mixed dropped shots on 10 and 17 with birdies on 11, 16 and 18.
“Probably a little disappointed with 5-under to be honest. I probably felt like I could have shot better but 5-under is still a decent knock around Wentworth, any time you shoot that is pretty good, and it just goes to show how well I’m playing that I’m a little disappointed.”
The defending champion will tee off on Sunday needing something remarkable to overturn a seven shot deficit and muscle his way through a host of quality players but looking ahead to the Ryder Cup in a fortnight he is purring with confidence.
“I got frustrated towards the end there because you could see the leaders were kind of going away. It’s absolutely perfect out there. The greens are pure and if you hit the ball well you’re going to have a lot of chances, so yeah, I think I’m too far behind but who knows, stranger things have happened.
“I’m very happy with how I played this week so far, how I played last week, and obviously I’ve got a very exciting few weeks ahead of me so pretty happy with my form.”
Åberg will take a two-shot lead into the final round at Wentworth as he looks to add a Rolex Series title to his recent meteoric rise.
The Swede only turned professional in June after a stellar amateur career that saw him become a collegiate superstar en route to topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
His transition into the paid ranks has been seamless, with a maiden DP World Tour victory in Switzerland earlier this month followed by selection to take on the United States in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
A 66 on day three at DP World Tour HQ moved Aberg to 16 under and he now has the chance to make it back-to-back wins, with Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood and Scot Connor Syme his nearest challengers.
Home duo Aaron Rai and Callum Shinkwin were at 13 under alongside Kiwi Ryan Fox, one clear of Masters champion Jon Rahm.
It is six years since Alex Noren became the first Rolex Series champion at Wentworth and Åberg is looking to become just the second Swede to win in the Rolex Series and at this historic event.
“Even if I wasn’t leading, I’d be looking forward to playing a Sunday round at Wentworth,” he said. “Such an iconic place and I’m just fortunate to play good golf the last three days and hopefully I’ll keep playing.
“I almost got a little bit of a warm-up the first two days playing with Rory (McIlroy), a lot of stuff going on. I felt like I handled it well the last two days and did the same today where I kept my feet where they are and tried to focus on one shot at a time. Hopefully I’ll do the same tomorrow and play some good golf.
“I felt like I was striking the ball pretty good today even though I had a few left misses with my driver but ended up with some key saves here and there and then with a few nice shots coming in.”
Thomas Detry joined overnight leader Åberg at the top with a six-footer down the hill on the first and was alone at the summit with a two-putt gain on the fourth.
Playing partner Fleetwood had bogeyed the third but he eagled the fourth from 12 feet to sit alongside Åberg, although he would not be there for long as the 23-year-old put an incredible second to five feet on the same hole to leapfrog into the lead with an eagle.
Fleetwood made a stunning 40-footer on the fifth to get within one and Detry was in a share of top spot on the next when he put an approach to six feet.
Åberg found a tricky lie on the seventh but played a wonderful recovery to eight feet to lead before Detry holed a 20-footer on the eighth but Åberg hit back on the same hole to lead again.
Detry missed the green at the tenth to hand Åberg a two-shot lead but Fleetwood put his tee-shot to four feet at the same hole and when the playing partners both took advantage of the 12th, the lead was back to one.
Åberg made a two-putt gain of his own on the 12th but had to make a 36-footer on the next to keep it to a bogey after sending his tee-shot a long way right and he soon had company at the top in the form of the charging Syme, who carded a 65.
The 28-year-old turned in 34 with two birdies and a bogey but came to life on the back nine, putting his tee-shot to ten feet on the tenth and then his second to six feet on the 12th for an eagle.