Shane Lowry’s hopes of breaking into the world’s Top 50 suffered a reverse when he paid a high price for what he admitted was unnecessary aggression, poor course management and lack of patience in the third round of the $7m Turkish Airlines Open.
The 27-year old Offaly man can still clinched the high finish he needs to make the leap — he must finish solo eighth at the very worst to have any chance of making the top 50.
He can still win the event but after completing a six-under 66 in his delayed second round with a bogey six at the 18th, he bogeyed the finishing hole again at the end of a trying third round, posting a disappointing, level par 72 to go in the final round four strokes behind Australia’s Wade Ormsby in a share of eighth.
“I just played poorly,” Lowry said of a third round that promised so much when he birdied the first and fourth, both par-fives, to get within three shots of halfway leader Ian Poulter on 10 under par.
“My course management was poor, everything was poor today. I was too aggressive and stupid really,” he added after coming home in level par 72 after taking three to get down from just off the edge of the 18th green.
With a premium on hitting fairways, Lowry paid the price at the fifth and ninth, missing both the fairway and the green en route to a pair of costly bogeys.
Under pressure to take advantage of soft conditions, he became overly aggressive on the back nine and while he birdied the par-five 11th, he was never in the right position on the scoring holes coming home.
“On 13 [par-five], 15 [driveable par-four] and 18 [par-five], three holes where you should have lobber in your hand and I was trying to get down there as far as I can.
“I left myself three trap shots outside of 40 yards and from there you are struggling to make par straight away. I am just disappointed to be honest but no-one ran away.
“I was expecting Poults to shoot a few under to be honest. I need a low one tomorrow — I am only four behind. I am playing alright but I am just a bit disappointed right now.”
Poulter threw the title race wide open with a three over 75 and now share second place with Lee Westwood and Race to Dubai contender, Marcel Siem just one stroke behind Ormsby on 11 under par.
“I made mistakes, and notably on 15,” Poulter said of his double bogey there, a mistake he later described on Twitter as a “brain fart.”
“You know, a real lack of judgment there led to a double bogey, which was a real shame… It's brought a lot of players back into the fray. Their dinner is going to taste lovely tonight and mine is going to taste horrible.”
Siem took advantage but he must win here and also in Dubai next week and hope Rory McIlroy is outside the top 16 in the final event if he is to deny the Holywood star his second Race to Dubai crown in three years.
“It's a little bit more interesting now for everybody, and for sure,” the German said after a six under 66. “I'll give it a shot tomorrow, try my best. That's what we are out here for, and there's why it's called Race to Dubai. I will do my best tomorrow to keep it interesting for you guys.”
With Brooks Koepka and Danny Willett on 10 under and Miguel Angel Jimenez alone in seventh on nine under, Lowry share eighth with Andy Sullivan, John Daly, Hennie Otto, Eddie Pepperell and Peter Uihlein.
He was clearly bitterly disappointed after his round, especially with the bogey at the last where he went for the green from a tough position in the left rough and found the deep bunker left of the green, leaving himself a tough, 40-yard recovery.
“I bogeyed too many par fives for my own good,” said Lowry, who has had four bogey sixes in three rounds. “I am too aggressive.”
His play on the 18th summed up his anxiousness to make birdie using aggression rather than playing to his strengths with the short clubs.
“What was wrong with hitting an eight iron down there and having 90 yards in and then trying to hit a lobber inside 10 feet?” he lamented. “I mean, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I could have hit it on the green [n two] but the chances are probably one out of ten.”
It wasn’t his only error.
He found the waste area on the par-five 13th looking for distance when the green was out of reach in two and then drove into a bunker at the driveable 15th. On both occasions he had to settle for par.
“I made a nice birdie on 11, had good chance on 12 and left it a bit short. Then on 13, I hit what I though was a pretty stupid shot down there — hitting three-wood when you can’t make the green. What’s the point in doing that? You have got to hit a great shot to leave yourself 40 yards to the flag.”
Birdie chances slipped by at the 16th and 17th and with sunshine forecast for Sunday after two poor days marred by thunderstorms, delays and occasional showers, Lowry knows that he will probably need a round in the mid to low 60s to have any chance of contending for the title.
“It’s going to be a nice day and scoring is going to be good,” he said. “I am going to have to get to 16 under. I’d take 15. I am feeling disappointed and flat. I mean that last hole, get a drive away and it is only a four iron in. I’ve played it in 12 shots today. I should be making at least one birdie there.”
Darren Clarke had four birdies and five bogeys in a 73 to slip three places to tied 59th on two over with Michael Hoey (73) back in 75th on 14 over.
Ormsby has never triumphed on The European Tour but the Adelaide native, who currently lies in 78th place in The Race to Dubai, is enjoying the best season of his career.
Victory would catapult him into the top 15 of The Race to Dubai and ensure him a slice of the Bonus Pool, but the form of Siem and Westwood may give him cause for concern as the pair chase the lion’s share of the US$ 7million prize fund.
“It feels great to be leading that’s for sure," Ormsby. "It's a great tournament with a great field, so to be up around the front is great and to be leading it makes me pretty happy."
Due to darkness, Spain's Alejandro Canizares still has one hole of his third round to complete on Sunday at 7:30.
The round four draw will be a looped, two-tee start from 8:20 to 10:20am.