Dustin Johnson takes Hilton Head lead as Shane Lowry slips on back nine

Lowry slips into second place following three dropped shots in four holes on the back nine

Shane Lowry is a shot off the lead heading into the final round at Hilton Head. Photograph: Tyler Lecka/Getty

Shane Lowry is a shot off the lead heading into the final round at Hilton Head. Photograph: Tyler Lecka/Getty

 

World number one Dustin Johnson overhauled halfway leader Shane Lowry to open up a one-stroke advantage after the third round of the windswept RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Saturday.

Johnson, a South Carolina native, shot a three-under 68 in trying conditions to end on 10-under 203, making his move with three consecutive birdies from the 13th and holding on to his lead despite dropping shots at 16 and 17.

Lowry’s lead evaporated with three bogeys on the back nine and he finished with an even-par 71, tied for second on nine-under along with Ian Poulter (67) and Rory Sabbatini (68) at Hilton Head Island’s Harbour Town Golf Links.

Six others were tied a shot further back on eight-under 205.

“I think I have been driving it well,” Johnson told CBS television. “That’s a big key around here.

“The wind direction was a lot different than it has been the last two days. The course played very difficult, especially the last three holes. It was hard to make putts.”

But make putts he did, none bigger than a 47-footer at the par-three 14th.

“I don’t know what to say about that one,” said Johnson. “But it was nice.”

That birdie got Johnson to within one of Lowry and when he picked up another stroke at the next the American had his nose in front.

Lowry, who started play shortly after sunrise to complete the final two holes of his second round, was cruising along with a three-stroke lead until the wheels fell off.

The 32-year-old dropped a shot on 13 after his tee shot found a bunker, then dropped another at the very next hole when his first shot went into the water.

He counted himself lucky to escape with a bogey four.

“I was trying to get out of there with a five. And holed out with a four and obviously that was huge,” said Lowry, who went on to record his third bogey of the back nine on the 16th.

Still he was optimistic.

“It’s nice only one behind,” the Irishman said. “Even making those bogeys, it was the best I’ve been in a while.”

Meanwhile Seamus Power’s strong week continued, as he shot another 68 in his third round to sit on five under par for the tournament. Power’s effort included an eagle, three birdies and a double bogey and he shares 20th place.

Ian Poulter shares second place with Shane Lowry heading into the final round at Hilton Head. Photograph: Tyler Lecka/Getty
Ian Poulter shares second place with Shane Lowry heading into the final round at Hilton Head. Photograph: Tyler Lecka/Getty

Poulter got off to a horrible start but was faultless the rest of the way.

“I started with a double bogey, which is not very helpful,” the Englishman said. “From that position on obviously I played some great golf. I holed a couple of nice putts and played real solid where I needed to.”

Six birdies put him in contention.

“As often as I’ve done that this year, I haven’t quite finished one off,” Poulter said. “It would be nice to go out tomorrow and be aggressive where I can, and obviously see if I can go close.”

Collated third round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour RBC Heritage (USA unless stated, par 71):

(a) denotes amateurs

203 Dustin Johnson 68 67 68
204 Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 67 69 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 65 68 71, Ian Poulter (Eng) 70 67 67
205 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 68 67 70, Trey Mullinax 66 68 71, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 71 65 69, Patrick Cantlay 67 72 66 Scott Piercy 67 70 68, Kyung Ju Choi (Kor) 70 66 69
206 Sam Burns 67 70 69, Matt Kuchar 69 69 68
207 Daniel Berger 66 69 72, Charley Hoffman 68 69 70, J.J. Spaun 70 69 68, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 68 69 70, Webb Simpson 69 73 65, Chez Reavie 68 71 68, Kevin Streelman 69 69 69
208 Peter Malnati 67 72 69, Michael Thompson 68 71 69, Denny McCarthy 70 68 70, Alex Noren (Swe) 67 74 67, Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 71 69 68, Troy Merritt 69 67 72, Seamus Power (Irl) 68 72 68
209 JT Poston 71 71 67, Joel Dahmen 70 68 71, Jason Kokrak 69 68 72, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 68 70, Boo Weekley 69 70 70, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 70 69, Billy Horschel 67 70 72, 210 Brian Stuard 68 70 72, Scott Stallings 70 69 71, Zach Johnson 69 69 72, Brian Gay 71 68 71, Harris English 72 69 69, Kevin Na 67 72 71, Nick Taylor (Can) 72 70 68, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 71 71 68
211 Danny Lee (Nzl) 72 69 70, Ryan Palmer 66 71 74, Brandt Snedeker 71 71 69, Kevin Kisner 71 68 72, Jordan Spieth 71 66 74
212 Luke List 66 73 73, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 68 71 73, Patton Kizzire 72 69 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 70 70 72, Ryan Moore 66 74 72, Brandon Harkins 71 67 74
213 Bud Cauley 69 72 72, Hudson Swafford 68 74 71, Jason Dufner 73 69 71, Andrew Landry 69 71 73, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor) 70 69 74
214 Xander Schauffele 71 70 73, Adam Hadwin (Can) 71 69 74, Cody Gribble 72 69 73, Jonathan Byrd 68 73 73
215 Ryan Armour 72 69 74
216 Richy Werenski 74 68 74, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 69 77
217 Wyndham Clark 70 69 78, Scott Langley 68 74 75, Benjamin Silverman (Can) 73 68 76, Branden Grace (Rsa) 70 72 75
218 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 73 68 77
219 Ted Potter, Jr. 73 69 77

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