McDowell and Lowry continue good form at The Grove

McDowell and Lowry continue good form at The Grove
  Alex Noren. Picture: Getty Images

 Alex Noren. Picture: Getty Images

Graeme McDowell knows he may need a round of 64 or better to win the British Masters but like Shane Lowry, who has also shot three sub-par rounds, it’s the way his game is shaping up that’s given him as much satisfaction as contending.

Both McDowell and Lowry shot four under par 67s in the third round at The Grove and while the Ulsterman is ninth on 10 under, six behind Alex Noren, Lowry is two shots further back.

Given the Swede’s form, rounds of 64 or 63 may not be enough to take home the bacon but having endured generally poor seasons, even getting to the fringes of contention in an average European Tour event is a positive as the season winds down.

McDowell certainly wasn’t beating himself up for playing his first 10 holes in five under and then following seven pars with a bogey six to finish.

“You can’t let a finish like that disappoint you too much,” he said. "Trending in the right direction. Obviously through ten holes I'm in really good shape.

"Coming into the tough part of the course, 11 through 14, maybe got a little tight, maybe got a little conservative, didn't stay aggressive enough and had some great chances coming in.

"Had a great chance on 15, had a great look at it and a great look on 16. Couldn't quite make them. At the last hole I left myself a very difficult bunker shot from short there and once I left the bunker shot, leave myself a really difficult 2-putt.

“I was always in the mix, but it was a day where I positioned myself where I need to be, and I’ve got a sniff tomorrow."

McDowell’s putting was impressive and that’s good news as it’s been the element of his game that has been lacking real sharpness for too long now.

“I’m really, really happy where I’m at,” he said. "I'm feeling physically as good as I have in a long time and mentally I've got the hunger back on the golf course.

“Just a case of being patient, not getting too disappointed with a six at the last like today and coming back out tomorrow and executing my game and we’ll see what happens."

Lowry had six birdies in his 67 and given how his already average season fizzled out after the disappointment of the US Open, he’s also looking to end the season on a high.

So too is Noren, who is on course for his second win on British soil in 2016 after opening up a three shot lead.

The Swede, who won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July, sunk a superb 45ft birdie putt on the closing hole for flawless 65 to pull away from overnight leader and nearest challenger Richard Bland going in to the final day.

Englishman Bland is second on 13 under par following a third round 69, with Swede Peter Hanson (66), Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (67), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Richard Sterne (67) all a further shot back on 12 under par.

Ryder Cup player and future tournament host Lee Westwood shares seventh place on 11 under par after a round of 67, while Paul McGinley shot a 70 and now trails Noren by 10 shots.

Alex Noren

“On 18, it was an amazing feeling because I thought it was a tough putt. You can easily three-putt that and come off with a sour taste in your mouth.
“I know from experience, that it's not that easy to hold leads. Anybody can come from behind and shoot eight under. You never know. I'm just trying to work on the things I work on with my coach and with my caddie and hope that I manage to pull it off.”

Richard Bland

“I have mixed emotions, really. I flushed it on the range this morning and started great, and then I just kind of lost my way a little bit for nine, ten holes. But I played well for the last five holes to keep myself in touch with Alex, and it's all to play for tomorrow.
“On you’re thinking you might actually get two back on him. He had a really tricky first putt, one you would probably three-putt more than most. Fair play to him, he holes it. That's one of those where you've just got to say well done, and come back fighting tomorrow.”

Tommy Fleetwood

“I'd like to be a couple closer, but that’s golf, isn't it? Anything can happen.”
“Today I felt quite good. My irons weren't quite on, and then I missed a couple of tee shots toward the end, but overall, one bogey on a Saturday is always good, especially with the pins tucked away.

Marcel Siem

“I’m really pleased with that. I text my wife on Wednesday to say it's actually the first time I feel like I could win a golf tournament again, so I’m happy to be here.
“My shoulder feels great. I have felt very rusty and the confidence was very low. I'm 374th in the world, and I don’t like the look of that number, but the frustration is gone after this round today. I really want to get back on track and try to get back in the top 50”.

Scores after round three

197 A Noren (Swe) 67 65 65,

200 R Bland (Eng) 67 64 69,

201 B Wiesberger (Aut) 68 66 67, R Sterne (RSA) 66 68 67, T Fleetwood (Eng) 66 67 68, P Hanson (Swe) 70 65 66,

202 M Siem (Ger) 69 68 65, L Westwood (Eng) 67 68 67,

203 Graeme McDowell (Nir) 68 68 67,

204 T Hatton (Eng) 68 66 70, A Levy (Fra) 70 66 68, M Warren (Sco) 66 69 69, S Jamieson (Sco) 68 65 71, J Campillo (Esp) 71 66 67,

205 A Johnston (Eng) 67 65 73, L Slattery (Eng) 67 70 68, P Edberg (Swe) 69 69 67, S Kjeldsen (Den) 68 69 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 68 70 67,

206 E Pepperell (Eng) 72 65 69, M Southgate (Eng) 69 70 67, J Walters (RSA) 71 68 67, D Brooks (Eng) 70 68 68, C Wood (Eng) 68 66 72, J Lagergren (Swe) 75 65 66, M Ilonen (Fin) 66 71 69,

207 Paul McGinley (Irl) 70 67 70, S Gallacher (Sco) 70 67 70, R Jacquelin (Fra) 73 67 67, T Aiken (RSA) 71 66 70, A Wall (Eng) 68 65 74, S Webster (Eng) 72 68 67, J Morrison (Eng) 67 73 67,

208 J Parry (Eng) 71 67 70, R Kakko (Fin) 72 68 68, M Ford (Eng) 69 68 71, D Horsey (Eng) 67 71 70,

209 T Jaidee (Tha) 70 69 70, M Manassero (Ita) 73 68 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 72 70 67, P Larrazábal (Esp) 70 70 69, G Stal (Fra) 71 67 71, R Karlberg (Swe) 73 69 67, J Quesne (Fra) 70 72 67, O Fisher (Eng) 70 72 67,

210 D Lipsky (USA) 72 69 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 68 70 72, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 70 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 70 70, F Fritsch (Ger) 72 70 68, R Paratore (Ita) 73 65 72, M Carlsson (Swe) 70 69 71, M Baldwin (Eng) 70 68 72, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 71 69 70, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 70 70,

211 C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 71 69, J Singh (Ind) 69 71 71, R Rock (Eng) 69 73 69, P Waring (Eng) 70 72 69,

212 J Luiten (Ned) 69 70 73, A Cañizares (Esp) 73 69 70, H Porteous (RSA) 70 69 73, N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 67 76,

213 C Lee (Sco) 70 69 74, C Paisley (Eng) 70 71 72, V Dubuisson (Fra) 73 68 72, J Hugo (RSA) 71 71 71, D Howell (Eng) 73 69 71

214 M Korhonen (Fin) 71 68 75, F Aguilar (Chi) 72 70 72, R Fisher (Eng) 72 66 76,

215 M Cort (Eng) 72 69 74, F Zanotti (Par) 71 69 75.