Shane Lowry may have stood still on moving day but the former champion will be licking his lips at the prospect of being involved in the championship chase on Sunday at the Portugal Masters.
The Clara golfer fired a frustrating one under par 71 to share a tie for 12th, four shots behind Dane Lucas Bjerregaard going into the final round.
Lowry looked in fine touch from the off following a hat-trick of birdies from the 3rd to the 5th. It’s been a year to forget for Offaly’s favourite son but a win would go a long way towards writing the wrongs. Having got himself in such a commanding position, a bogey on 9 was the last thing he needed as Shane threatened to get ahead of steam making his way to the turn.
Without a sting in the tail, Lowry parred his way to 16 where he fell foul of a bogey four as frustration reared its ugly head. A birdie four was just the tonic at the next before a bogey five at the last left Lowry wondering what might have been. Still, at ten under par for the tournament, it’s all to play for going into the final day at Dom Pedro.
Defending champion Padraig Harrington is not without a fool’s hope either despite a disappointing stalemate of 71. Harrington exchanged three birdies and three bogeys as his efforts to loom large on the lead were held at bay.
Lucas Bjerregaard will take a one-shot lead into the final round at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course as he goes in search of a first European Tour title.
Rounds of 66, 65 and 68 have moved the Dane to 14 under par and given him an excellent platform heading into Sunday, but there are 15 players within four shots of the lead.
A late eagle on the 17th helped to edge South Africa’s George Coetzee into second position at 13 under par, while Nino Bertasio of Italy, Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Scotland’s Marc Warren are all one shot further back.
There’s a six way tie for sixth place with Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Joost Luiten of The Netherlands, English Pair Chris Paisley and Graeme Storm and Ashun Wu of China all on 11 under par.
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Sweden’s Sebastien Soderberg are amongst five players at ten under par. Both ended the second round on the cut line but are in touching distance going into the final day after shooting seven under par 64s for the rounds of the day.
Bjerregaard appeared to be on the brink of making his breakthrough in 2015 when he secured four top fives in his last nine events and he was a picture of consistency last term. He has not been able to quite reproduce that form this season and sits 114th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, looking for a good finish to the season to keep his playing privileges.
He got his round off and running in Vilamoura with a brilliant approach to the third and holed a 15-foot right-to-lefter on the fifth to hold a one-shot lead at the turn. A nice approach to the tenth handed him a two- shot advantage but when he failed to get up and down on the 11th and found a fairway bunker on the 14th, he was out of top spot.
A huge drive to the front of the par four 15th allowed him to get up and down for a birdie and when he used his length again to birdie the par five 15th, the lead was his once again.
“It was a bit of a battle, the wind was blowing a lot more than the last couple of days and from a bit of a different direction as well. I struggled a bit with that. I didn’t drive the ball nearly as good as the last couple of days, so I didn’t give myself the same chances”, said the Dane.
“It was two silly bogies really on quite easy holes. That does hurt a bit, and also to hit a good drive on 12 and not take advantage. I was in a bad place on those couple of holes. I hit a nice chip on 15 to make birdie there and then a nice wedge shot and a good putt on 17 felt really good.
“It’s been a rough year for me, so to be in contention again feels really good. I played well in Switzerland two weeks ago and I’ve been seeing my game go in the right direction the last month or so. To be in contention is great. I’m in a place where I’m still building confidence. This is what we play for, this is where I want to be, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”