Tuesday 16 January 2018

Lowry left chasing Olesen's coat-tails

William S Callahan

SHANE LOWRY needs a minor miracle to secure his first victory as a professional at the Diamond Country Club today -- yet the Clara heavyweight is playing so well, a knockout performance can't be too far away.

Lowry's prospects of catching Thorbjorn Olesen in today's final round of the Lyoness Open in Altzenbrugg, Austria, all but expired yesterday when he made bogey at 18 as a marathon 27-hole effort came to a conclusion in sweltering heat.

Forced to complete the final nine holes of his second round in the morning, Lowry had signed for two rounds of four-under-par 68 by day's end and was tied seventh on 10-under through 54 holes.

This was six off the pace set by Olesen (22), who went bogey-free as he compiled a third-round 68 of his own.

Indeed, the dazzling Dane has dropped just one shot all week and, with a three-shot cushion to his nearest challenger, Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, looks a sure bet to wrap up a second European Tour title to go with April's maiden victory in Sicily.

Yet during a sparkling spell midway through his third round, when Lowry picked up five birdies in the space of six holes, it looked as if he was ready to challenge for another Tour win to go with his sensational success as an amateur at the 2009 Irish Open.


Sadly, the afternoon heat took its toll. While Lowry rebounded from a bogey at 14 with birdies at 16 and 17, fatigue clearly was a factor in his five at the last.

The 25-year-old blocked his drive right, forcing him to chip back out onto the fairway. And after hitting a splendid third shot to around five feet, Lowry then missed the par-saving putt.

Damien McGrane shoved himself into contention for another decent cheque with a 68 which featured an eagle three at 10 and left him tied 13th on eight-under.

Kerryman David Higgins, who played with Lowry in the third round, slipped back to four-under with a 74 which included an eagle two at 12, three birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys.

Simon Thornton, Mark Murphy, Chris Devlin and British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar all missed the cut, as did 37-year-old former tennis No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in his second Tour outing.

American Gary Hallberg blew everyone away at the British Senior Open with a seven-under-par 63 at windy Turnberry. Even Bernhard Langer got blown off course, a second-round 73 leaving him tied second on three-under with Tom Lehman, three behind Hallberg.

A 68 by Fred Couples was the only other sub-par round on a difficult day.

Des Smyth was one of three players to shoot 70 as he breezed through the cut in a tie for 44th on five-over. Denis O'Sullivan (72, +8) scraped through on the mark but Philip Walton (76) and Eamonn Darcy (74) missed out.

WORLD No 1 Yani Tseng missed her second cut in three tournaments at the $3.5m Evian Masters. After winning three times in 2012, Tseng has hit a stretch of poor form and rounds of 76 in France on Thursday and yesterday's 71 left her a stroke shy on three-over.

US Solheim Cup star Stacy Lewis held onto the lead, a 69 lifting her to 12-under through 36 holes, one ahead of Korea's Il Hee Lee. Paul Creamer (67) and Inbee Park shared third, two shots further back.

COLM MORIARTY shot a three-under 69 at the English Challenge to lie nine off the blistering pace set at Stoke-by-Nayland by Londoner Robert Dinwiddie with back-to-back 65s. Former Shamrock Rovers winger Stephen Grant was two-under after his second-round 73, while Tim Rice (79) missed the cut.

BRITISH OPEN hero Ernie Els came back to earth with a bump yesterday. Five days after lifting the Claret Jug at Lytham, the South African missed the cut at the Canadian Open.

A second round of even-par 70 left Els two-over through 36 holes, 13 behind early clubhouse leaders Scott Piercy (67) and William McGirt (66).

Evian Masters, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0

Austrian Open, Day 4

Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.0

British Senior Open, Day 3

Sky Sports 1, 4.0

Canadian Open, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 2, 8.0

Irish Independent

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