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

Amateur Shane Lowry, playing what Colin Montgomerie called "incredible" golf, continued to live in a dream world at The 3 Irish Open at County Louth - and is joint leader with England's Robert Rock heading into the final round.

Not even a five hour hold-up for strong winds rattled the 22 year old off track in what could now become the most astonishing European Tour debut in history.

Yet it could have been better for Lowry, whose second round 62 matched the lowest round ever by an amateur in a European Tour event, after he led by two with one hole of his third round to play.

He looked like being the first amateur ever to be the outright leader with 18 holes to play. But then he three putted for a bogey six while Rock birdied.

Two years ago at the Estoril Open de Portugal Spaniard Pablo Martin became the first amateur to win a European title and only three months ago New Zealander Danny Lee became the second at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia.

But, in terms of strength of field and the fact that he is playing in front of his home fans, this would eclipse both of those - even more so because Martin and Lee had bags of experience against professionals.

Lowry, forced off the course at 10am having played only one hole in foul conditions, returned at 3.15pm to shoot a 71, one of only seven sub-par scores of the day.

And this while players of the calibre of Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie and Paul McGinley all shot 77, Rory McIlroy a 76 and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, joint second at halfway, a 78.

Rock, though, returned a fine 69 as he continued his pursuit of a maiden European Tour victory.

They are two in front of Swede Johan Edfors, whose 68 was the round of the day, and then there is a further four stroke gap to Scot Alastair Forsyth, England's Nick Dougherty and Frenchman Thomas Levet. Montgomerie is one further back.

The other big story of the day came when course record holder Graeme McDowell was forced out of the event with an injury.

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.

Play was halted just before 10am after 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 forecasts of a worsening situation all 73 players were brought in.

Lowry said: "That was a bad bogey on the last - I should not really have been going anywhere near the flag with my third - but I'm still happy enough.

"A 71 was respectable enough and I'm still in the lead, so I can't ask for any more. But I knew he was going to hole that last putt.

"I was a bit nervy coming up the last, if you're not nervous you can't be human. If I play the same I have all week I'll have a good chance."

Rock, who had his second runners-up finish of the season in Italy last Sunday, said: "I was happy for him that he was playing well, but I am concentrating on trying to win a tournament.

"He seems to know what he's doing all right. That was a tough day."


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Tournament Leaderboard

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