Tokyo 2020: Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry in pursuit of Xander Schauffele

Irish duo have work to do but medals in their sights heading into final round of in Japan

Rory McIlroy is three strokes off the lead in Tokyo. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Rory McIlroy is three strokes off the lead in Tokyo. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

 

A final hole birdie for Xander Schauffele has given him a one stroke lead over US Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama heading into the final round of the Olympics golf at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The American leads on 14 under par after a third round of 68 in Tokyo - but Rory McIlroy is in hot pursuit after he signed for 67 on Saturday.

Four-time Major winner McIlroy made six birdies and dropped two shots in his third round to put himself firmly in medal contention - he is three strokes off Schauffele on 11 under par heading into an intriguing final day.

Shane Lowry meanwhile is a shot further back on 10 under par after he carded a 68. The 2019 British Open winner saw his momentum checked by a bogey on the par five 14th, after he was forced to take an unplayable.

Speaking after Saturday’s third round, McIlroy seemed content with his efforts: “I got to four under after 13 and thought I could maybe squeeze an extra couple of shots out of the round.

“Fourteen was disappointing but then I bounced back well after the bogey on 16 with a birdie on 17. Overall, it’s a good round of golf that keeps me in contention. Eighteen holes is a lot of golf still, and a lot can happen.

And he has a medal firmly in his sights as the tournament approaches a crescendo: “It feels different, but I wouldn’t know how to describe it. As it gets closer, and you get closer to the finishing line, you start thinking about it a little bit more.

“Last week, an Olympic medal, I was like ‘I don’t really know what that would mean to me’ but now that you’ve got the chance to do it…

“There’s something to play for and that’s the only thing you ask of yourself going into the Sunday of any golf tournament. Give yourself a chance, then it’s up to you to play the best golf I can to try to get the job done.”

McIlroy believes playing with compatriot and friend Lowry has boosted the chances of both in Tokyo, he said: “It’s been great. We’ve had a really good week together and the atmosphere has been really relaxed. It’s been a throwback to the amateur days, I guess, which has been great.

“We’ve been telling a lot of stories - it’s 15 years ago now. We’ve been pros for over a decade, a lot has changed, but it’s nice to go back to that and to have those memories.

“Shane and I play a lot of golf together, especially now he’s moved to Florida for six or seven months of the year. We see a lot of each other there, and playing alongside each other definitely helped both of us.”

Meanwhile Lowry was left to rue what might have been following his round of 68, with a lost ball on the 14th – after it got stuck up a tree off the tee - stalling his momentum.

Tokyo 2020

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Reflecting on his round, he said: “I got off to the best possible start, I played great for the first few holes, four under through 8, I bogeyed 9 but I felt like I was going very well and got it back to four under after 12.

“It was just disappointing to go down and see my ball stuck up a tree. To be honest I was very lucky to find it and not have to go back to the tee box, so I saved myself a shot there but obviously it’s a bad break and something that I hope doesn’t cost me at the end of the week.

Xander Schauffele has a one stroke lead heading into the final round of the Olympics golf. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty
Xander Schauffele has a one stroke lead heading into the final round of the Olympics golf. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty

“But I fought hard coming in, I believe that that par putt on the last is big, hopefully I’m standing here tomorrow evening and looking back on that putt, and thinking that was the thing that kicked me on and gave myself the chance to win a medal tomorrow.

“This is where you want to be, I came into the week and all I wanted was the chance to win a medal, that’s all I wanted, the chance to go out on Sunday and be in contention.

“It was in my head all week and it’s very exciting.”

A fascinating Sunday awaits, with both Irish golfers firmly in the medal mix.

Collated third round scores & totals in the Men’s Individual Stroke Play, Kasumigaseki Country Club, Tokyo, Japan (Par 71):

199 Xander Schauffele (USA) 68 63 68

200 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 69 64 67

201 Paul Casey (Eng) 67 68 66, Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 65 67 69

202 Sepp Straka (Aut) 63 71 68, Guillermo Mito Pereira (Chi) 69 65 68, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 67 69 66, Rory McIlroy (Irl) 69 66 67

203 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 69 64, Shane Lowry (Irl) 70 65 68

204 Cameron Smith (Aus) 71 67 66, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 71 65 68, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 69 69 66

205 Thomas Detry (Bel) 70 67 68, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 65 76 64, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 70 69 66

206 Corey Conners (Can) 69 71 66, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 69 72 65, Chengtsung Pan (Tai) 74 66 66, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 66 73 67, Sung Jae Im (Kor) 70 73 63, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 69 67 70, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 68 70 68, Alexander Noren (Swe) 67 67 72, Collin Morikawa (USA) 69 70 67, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 66 70 70, Scott Vincent (Zim) 73 67 66

207 Carl Yuan (Chn) 69 68 70, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 73 68 66, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 67 72 68, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 64 71 72

208 Matthias Schwab (Aut) 69 69 70, Sami Valimaki (Fin) 70 70 68, Romain Langasque (Fra) 69 70 69, Renato Paratore (Ita) 71 70 67, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 68 69 71, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 73 67 68

209 Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 73 69 67, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 68 71 70, Patrick Reed (USA) 68 71 70, Justin Thomas (USA) 71 70 68

210 Ashun Wu (Chn) 72 71 67, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 68 69 73, Hurly Long (Ger) 70 70 70

211 Adria Arnaus (Spa) 68 69 74

212 Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 71 68 73, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 72 71 69, Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 71 71 70

213 Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 71 72, Kalle Samooja (Fin) 75 68 70, Kristian Krogh Johannessen (Nor) 72 70 71, Henrik Norlander (Swe) 68 73 72, Gunn Charoenkul (Tha) 71 71 71

214 Jorge Campillo (Spa) 70 75 69

215 Udayan Mane (Ind) 76 69 70, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 70 72 73, Juvic Pagunsan (Phi) 66 73 76

216 Gavin Green (Mal) 74 72 70, Rafael Campos (Pur) 73 73 70

222 Ondrej Lieser (Cze) 72 77 73

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