Shane Lowry jumps up US PGA leaderboard after battling 68
Rory McIlroy enjoys early eagle in third-round 69 at Bethpage Black
Shane Lowry carded a two-under 68 in the third round of the US PGA at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Sometimes, you get rewarded for sheer doggedness. Take Shane Lowry. Having required a 17th-hole birdie in Friday’s second round to make the cut on the mark, the 32-year-old Offalyman – released from the pressure of surviving into the weekend – produced a third-round 68 for 212, two over par, that saw him make a significant upward move in this 101st US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
Although Brooks Koepka effectively turned the championship into a one-man show with his masterclass in reaching the midpoint with a record low 36-holes total for any Major, Lowry – almost playing in a different tournament along with everyone else apart from the leader – improved by some 40 places with his third round of two birdies, one bogey and 15 pars.
Lowry, put on the back foot by an opening round 75, has responded with two rounds in the 60s – a 69 followed by a 68 – and has set himself a target of getting back to level par or even dipping under going into Sunday’s final round, with a top-25 finish a possibility.
Having won the Abu Dhabi Championship at the start of the year, Lowry’s season since – including a disappointing missed cut in the Masters last month – has been a challenge, but a third place finish recently in the Heritage Classic re-energised him.
“I feel like this year has been going all right. Obviously I’ve missed a few too many cuts, but look, that’s the way golf goes. It’s kind of ups and downs, especially that’s kind of the way my golf game is. I play well five to 10 times a year and then the other weeks, you kind of have to write them off a little bit. But you hope the good weeks come on the big weeks.
“This is a pretty big week. They are coming thick and fast this year. I don’t think I put too much pressure on myself this week but look, this is just a brutally tough golf course. I didn’t have it 100 per cent on Thursday, that’s the reason I’m sitting here on two over. I went out with a great mindset the last couple days, and managed to play the last two rounds in three under, which is pretty nice.”
Lowry was later joined on that 212 mark by Rory McIlroy, who signed for a third-round 69. The highlight of McIlroy’s round was an eagle three on the fourth as he reached the turn in 32 but he failed to find a birdie on the homeward stretch, incurring two bogeys, in coming back in 37.
“I played well. I didn’t convert as many chances as I would have liked but it was an improvement over the last couple days,” said McIlroy.
Graeme McDowell too found it difficult on the back nine, as he ran up four bogeys coming home to sign for a 73 for 215.