Lowry and McIlroy, tied eighth in China, withdraw from Turkish Airlines Open

Lowry and McIlroy, tied eighth in China, withdraw from Turkish Airlines Open
 Russell Knox. Picture: Getty Images

Russell Knox. Picture: Getty Images

 

Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy will be looking for a top finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions after both withdrew from next week’s Turkish Airlines Open.

No reasons were immediately forthcoming though European Tour officials investigated reports that the southern Turkish holiday resort region of Antalya was hit in a recent rocket attack.

Turkish media reported that two rockets were fired from a mountainous area close to the highway linking the city of Antalya to the resort town of Kemer.

No one was killed or injured in the attack, which hit a fishing company's storage house and open ground nearby.

It is understood the Tour received assurances from security experts that it was safe to stage the event, won last year by France's Victor Dubuisson.

McIlroy said at the start of the week that he was looking forward to competing in Turkey and Dubai as he bids to close the gap on Race to Dubai leader Danny Willett and win the title for the third year running and the fourth time in five years.

Lowry was also entered for the Turkish Airlines sponsored event before his name was also withdrawn on Saturday.

Lowry and McIlroy are both tied for eighth with a round to play at Sheshan International though eight strokes behind world No 10, Hideki Matsuyama.

The Japanese star continued to set the pace on 17 under par after his fourth birdie of the day on the 18th sealed a bogey-free 68 and a three-shot lead over title holder Russell Knox (68), whose omission from the Ryder Cup team is beginning to look like a huge mistake.

Knox won the title in his first attempt 12 months ago, and he leads the European challenge once more, with American Daniel Berger in third place on 13 under par after a round of 67.

McIlroy was three under for his round for his first eight holes but then played the last eight in two over for a 70 that saw him fall one place to tied eighth with Thomas Pieters (66), Henrik Stenson (67), China’s Xinjun Zhang (70), American Matt Kuchar (68) and Lowry, who shot a 65.

Lowry credited his caddie, Dermot Byrne’s green-reading skills as he followed a bogey at the first with eight birdies

“I played good,” Lowry said. "I've been playing good all week. The first day I shot 2-over but I played nicely and I didn't hole anything.

"With six holes to go yesterday, I was still 2-over for the tournament, and I got Dermot, my caddie, reading the greens. I'm 11-under since. He's done all right.

"If I can go out and shoot a decent score tomorrow, it would be a nice week. Yeah, I’m pretty happy.”

He added: “I was just struggling to pick lines and just struggling to hit good putts. I just felt if I had a bit of knowledge and information, I would do a little bit better. It's worked so far, so hopefully keep going.

"They always say, some of your best rounds start with a bogey. I made a pretty sloppy bogey on the first, but from there on in, it was pretty flawless, I was happy.”

Lowry knows that he needs a lot of help from Matsuyama to clinch his second WGC but he knows a big finish is possible.

As for the leader,  Matsuyama said: “I’m satisfied with the round today and I’m in a good place. Hopefully we can make a run for a win tomorrow.

“I have a three-stroke lead but I can't think about that. There are so many good players behind; I just have to worry about my own game and play one shot at a time.

"The way I played today, four birdies was good. I'm just glad I didn't make any bogeys.

“There are no nerves about being in the lead, but maybe a little because I have a chance to win. I just have to go out and enjoy the day tomorrow and do my best.”

Knox said: “I’m not going to give up my title without a big fight tomorrow. Hideki is probably going to play similar, so I'm going to have to put the foot down, be aggressive and try to catch him. I’ll probably have to play close to the round of my life.

“I’m going to have to play excellent golf, be patient and hole some putts. It's going to be difficult but I can't wait for it.

“After hitting it in the water on 14, to make a massive putt for par was huge. And then of course I birdied the next, which was a massive momentum change. Those little moments are what add up in a tournament.”

Complete round three scores (par 72)

199 H Matsuyama  (Jpn) 66 65 68,

202 R Knox (Sco) 66 68 68,

203 D Berger (USA) 66 70 67,

204 B Haas  (USA) 67 67 70, F Molinari (Ita) 67 69 68,

206 R Fisher (Eng) 69 68 69, R Fowler  (USA) 65 73 68,

207 T Pieters  (Bel) 71 70 66, M Kuchar  (USA) 73 66 68, H Stenson (Swe) 69 71 67, S Lowry  (Irl) 74 68 65, R McIlroy  (Nir) 71 66 70, Z Xinjun (Chn) 68 69 70,

209 C Wood  (Eng) 69 70 70, R Moore  (USA) 71 72 66, S Garcia  (Esp) 68 72 69, P Casey  (Eng) 67 70 72,

210 R Karlberg  (Swe) 64 75 71, E Grillo (Arg) 72 67 71, A Noren  (Swe) 68 72 70, J Kokrak  (USA) 70 73 67,

211 J Luiten (Ned) 72 68 71, R Bland (Eng) 68 68 75,

212 B Koepka  (USA) 73 70 69, D Burmester (RSA) 68 70 74,

213 R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 71 74 68, A Scott  (Aus) 69 80 64, J Thomas (USA) 71 70 72, K Chappell (USA) 70 71 72, T Hatton (Eng) 70 76 67, A Johnston (Eng) 75 69 69,

214 M Kaymer (Ger) 72 68 74,

215 W Ashun (Chn) 73 69 73, C Schwartzel  (RSA) 72 71 72, J Holmes (USA) 71 74 70, L Oosthuizen  (RSA) 71 75 69,

216 M Fitzpatrick  (Eng) 72 74 70, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 73 73, S Hend (Aus) 72 72 72, L Westwood (Eng) 69 70 77, G Coetzee (RSA) 69 79 68, B Wiesberger  (Aut) 71 72 73,

218 G Woodland (USA) 71 74 73, D Johnson (USA) 74 74 70, S O'Hair (USA) 73 73 72,

219 K Kim (Kor) 74 74 71, L Wenchong (Chn) 72 75 72, B Dredge (Wal) 72 73 74, B Grace  (RSA) 73 75 71, P Reed (USA) 78 75 66, L Haotong (Chn) 73 72 74, D Zecheng (Chn) 77 70 72, K Na (USA) 75 71 73, H Tanihara (Jpn) 73 73 73,

220 R Sterne  (RSA) 77 74 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 74 70 76, M Tabuena (Phi) 72 76 72, R Castro (USA) 73 74 73, S Kjeldsen (Den) 73 75 72, A Levy (Fra) 72 75 73, B Watson (USA) 71 73 76,

221 Y Song (Kor) 75 74 72, K Kisner (USA) 72 80 69, M Millar (Aus) 72 75 74,

222 J Zunic (Aus) 72 75 75, M Fraser (Aus) 78 73 71,

223 J Vegas (Ven) 79 71 73,

224 S Chan  (Tpe) 79 74 71,

225 B An (Kor) 74 75 76, S Piercy (USA) 79 72 74,

226 J Blaauw  (RSA) 76 73 77, Z Hui-Lin (Chn) 72 78 76,

227 D Willett  (Eng) 74 78 75, S Kim (Kor) 74 81 72, J Wang (Kor) 82 76 69, S Lee (Kor) 76 76 75,

231 N Holman  (Aus) 75 79 77,

234 J Walker  (USA) 78 79 77