Graeme McDowell often jokes that if he can sneak along in Rory McIlroy’s slipstream for a few years, he’ll pick up his fair share of wins and do quite nicely. But Shane Lowry might be thinking along the same lines.
Despite his US Open win and last year’s heroics, McDowell believes his younger friend continues to challenge in majors.
Barring accidents or a dramatic deterioration of a sometimes wobbly putting technique, McIlroy will go on to win many majors and become world No 1. It’s inevitable.
But while the two Ulstermen continue to capture headlines worldwide, Clara native Lowry is lurking quietly in the shadow of his former Irish amateur team mate f.
McIlroy shot a superb 68 in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship and denied an even better return when he his approach to the controversial 18th was knocked down by gust of wind, finishing in the water and leading to a bogey six.
He’s six strokes behind co-leaders Matteo Manassero and Luke Donald and if he’s to complete a wonderful comeback from an opening 76 and win today, he’ll need help from the 17 players in front of him.
Given McIlroy’s frequent brilliance, it’s easy to overlook Lowry’s towering talent and the burly Offaly man flourished alongside the world No 6 when they played together on Saturday, coming home in three under 33 for a two under 69 that set him hurtling 31 places up the leaderboard to tied 23rd.
He’s just a shot behind McIlroy on two over par and while he would never dare to compare himself to the Holwyood star, he has no need to be modest.
He showed his class when he won a play-off to claim the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur and sparkled often on his major debut at St Andrews last year.
Sure, he missed the cut in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits after a disappointing second round. But that may well have had something to do with his less than ideal fitness levels that his golfing ability.
While McIlroy and Manassero will capture all the limelight for the next decade at least, Lowry is only 24 and improving all the time.
He has the game to become a multiple tour winner and a Ryder Cup star and it is only a matter of time before he wins for the first time since he turned professional shortly after his legendary win at Baltray just over two years ago.
Considering he was sidelined for three months this winter after fracturing his wrist in an icy fall, his game is warming up nicely with a string of big events on the horizon, including qualifiers for the US Open and the Open.
Of course, Lowry and McIlroy were the only smiling Irishmen at the end of another testin day at Wentworth.
Darren Clarke’s hopes of victory were dashed by a 74 that featured a quadruple bogey eight at the eighth and a double bogey seven at the 17th. Other than those two disasters, he had five birdies and just two bogeys and can look forward to challenging McDowell for the Saab Wales Open at Celtic Manor next week.
While Clarke is only seven behind on two over, Madeira Islands Open winner Michael Hoey’s 74 saw him fall five places to 51st on six over after a poor day on the greens.
Gareth Maybin has other things on his mind as he prepares to wed next week and he’ll have little time to reflect on his 83 when he ties the knot.
He started bogey-bogey-triple and then had a quadruple bogey eight at the 12th in his worst ever round on the European Tour.
As for Donald and Manassero, they are just two shots clear of Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (69) and world No 1 Lee Westwood (69) with Raphael Jacquelin, Bradley Dredge and Simon Dyson three behind heading into what promises to be an exciting final day.