Irishman Shane Lowry heads the leaderboard for a third successive day at the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, carding a 67 to take a three-shot lead into the tournament’s final round.
A run of four birdies on the front nine set the tone for a commanding round in which he outscored his playing partner, Louis Oosthuizen, by eight shots to extend his lead over the chasing pack, headed by South African Richard Sterne.
Reflecting on his performance and looking ahead to his final round, Lowry said: “I felt very comfortable out there today and am very happy with that performance. We’re playing in a world-class field on a very difficult golf course.
“I need to go out, stay aggressive, play my own game and try and make as many birdies as I can. That’s the way I play golf. If I can do that, hopefully I can be up there at the end of the day and give myself a chance coming down the last few.”
Second placed Sterne provided one of the moments of the day with a delicate chip-in eagle on 10 to put himself in contention for his first European Tour win since 2013.
Reflecting on his round, Sterne said: “I didn’t expect it to be so tough, but the course showed its teeth a little bit today. It was definitely a tougher day but I’m happy with a 69.
“I was quite relaxed today. Yesterday I was a little nervous for some reason. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contention, but I’ve managed to pull it off a few times, so maybe there’s some magic left in me.”
England’s Ian Poulter put in a performance typical of the much-loved showman. After 17 holes he looked to be heading into the clubhouse seven behind the leader before a brilliant 265-yard approach to 15 feet set up a closing eagle, that brought the crowd to their feet and propelled him to within touching distance of Lowry at -12.
Speaking about his approach to the 18th, Poulter said: “It was one of those shots that providing you stayed committed to it and moved the ball as much as you need to move it in the wind, was definitely going to have a chance to get up there close to the pin”
Former champion, Pablo Larrazabal’s third round got off to a flyer with a hat trick of birdies that contributed to an excellent four under front nine, and he will need more of that form if he is to lift the Falcon Trophy for the second time in five years.
Speaking on his prospects tomorrow, Larrazabal said: “I will go out there tomorrow and play my own game, have fun and try make as many birdies as possible to close the gap. A lot will depend on how Shane gets on.”
With major winners, Brooks Koepka and Oosthuizen, sitting in the chasing pack the tournament is far from over, but Lowry’s unrelenting consistency leaves the Irishman in pole position to pick up a debut victory in the Middle East.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA recently become part of the prestigious Rolex Series and with a prize fund now at US$7million, is one of the premium tournaments on The European Tour.
To thank spectators for their continued support, HSBC are offering free tickets to all fans who wear red for their Wear Red Day promotion on Saturday.