Friday, 19 March 2010
The 3 Irish Open - Round Three  (Getty Images)
The 3 Irish Open - Round Three (Getty Images)

Course record holder Graeme McDowell was ruled out of The 3 Irish Open at County Louth  with a limp but local amateur Shane Lowry amazingly continued to put many of Europe's biggest names in the shade after a five hour delay for strong winds pushed the third round well into the evening.

But McDowell's hopes of becoming just the second home winner of the title since 1974 lay in tatters.

The Ryder Cup star, who had recovered from an opening 77 with an incredible 11 under par 61, was forced out with shin splints in his right leg.

McDowell said: "I picked up the injury on Thursday, yesterday it got progressively worse and this morning, after I warmed up, I was really struggling to walk.

"I got straight on the phone to my physio and he sent one of the Tour physios to strap it up. It was difficult conditions and I'm making any excuses, but I was in a lot of pain.

"I'm disappointed that I have to do it here. This is only the second withdrawal of my career and not something that I like to get in the habit of doing."

Play was halted just before 10am after Swede Johan Edfors had a ball blown six inches by the wind on the second green.

The gusts were over 30mph, there was heavy rain as well at the time and with a forecast of a worsening situation all 73 players were brought in.

Leader Lowry, whose second round of 62 equalled the lowest round ever by an amateur on the circuit, had completed just one hole then.

He and everyone else except McDowell resumed at 3.15pm, and the 22 year old plus five handicapper continued his dream European Tour debut by stretching his lead to three on the front nine.

Lowry, the son of a famous Gaelic footballer, did bogey the short fifth, but he sank a 14 footer on the next for birdie and holed from around twice as far to complete an outward 36.

Trying to become just the third amateur to lift a European Tour title, he turned at 16 under par with England's Robert Rock his closest challenger at 13 under and Edfors one further back.

With Padraig Harrington missing the cut and McDowell out as well, Irish hopes appeared to be resting on Lowry's burly shoulders.

That was because Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke had fallen back to four under, Gary Murphy to three, Paul McGinley to two and Damien McGrane to one.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1ROCK, RobertENG18-17
T1LOWRY, ShaneIRL18-17
3EDFORS, JohanSWE18-15
T4DOUGHERTY, NickENG18-13
T4WARREN, MarcSCO18-13
6FORSYTH, AlastairSCO18-12
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