falling back | 

Shane Lowry’s Masters title challenge fails to ignite on frustrating day in Augusta

Ireland's Shane Lowry reacts after his shot on the 18th during the third round

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry cut a frustrated figure as three bogeys in his last 10 holes left him seven shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler on two-under heading into the final round of the Masters.

The Clara man was two-under through six holes and just four shots adrift of Scheffler as he navigated the lightning greens, but he would bogey the ninth, then drop further shots at the 13th and 17th en route to a one-over 73.

While he still has a chance of becoming Ireland’s first Masters champion, the 2019 Open winner was never the same after he got upset with his caddie at the 13th.

He got up and down from sand to save par at the first, chipped close to birdie the par-five second and briefly cut the gap on the leader to four when he made a 16-footer for a two at the sixth to get to five-under-par.

While he came up short at the ninth and failed to get up and down, he reeled off pars at the 10th, 11th and 12th before his mood darkened considerably at the 510-yard 13th, where he sarcastically complained of getting a bad lay-up yardage from his caddie Brian “Bo” Martin and proceeded to fly his 119-yard third 43 feet over the flag, leaving himself one of the quickest putts on the course.

He inevitably three-putted for a bogey six, making a poor stroke at his three-footer, to fall seven shots off the pace.

He regrouped and got up and down for brilliant pars at the 14th and 16th but was again chattering away at his caddie as he bunkered his approach at the 17th and dropped another shot.

As for the rest of the Irish, Rory McIlroy endured the worst of the freezing and blustery early conditions and all but conceded defeat in his eighth attempt at completing the career Grand Slam.

Ten shots behind Scheffler after a brace of 73s, it was a battle for the Holywood star from the moment he failed to escape from a fairway bunker at the first attempt on the way to an opening bogey, then missed two good birdie chances at the next two holes.

McIlroy (32) would knock in a 36-footer for the only two of the day at the 240-yard fourth, but wearing four layers and carrying two hand warmers, he would follow a bogey at the sixth with a birdie at the seventh, then recover from a bogey after airmailing the 12th with birdie fours at the 13th and 15th.

A one-under 71 left tied for ninth on one-over-par and he admitted he’s just playing for his sixth top 10 finish in his last nine Masters.

“I played well it’s just hard to go very low out there,” McIlroy said. “Anything under par is a good score. It’s just blustery and there are no easy birdies.

“It’s been a tough couple of days, and I’ve just sort of hung in there as best I could and it’s not really conditions favourable for going low and trying to get close to the leaders so it’s just sort of hanging in there doing the best that you can.”

As for his plan for today, he added: “You just trying to go out and shoot the best you can without being reckless and taking on too much risk.

“I’ll try and go out and do that tomorrow. I think I’ve moved up a few places with that score today, so I’ll try and just move up a few more tomorrow and try and get a top 10 and move on.”

If it was a slow, cold day for McIlroy, it was even slower and colder for Seamus Power, who carded a third successive, two-over 74 in his maiden Major to sit just inside the top 40 on six-over.

The West Waterford man began brightly, almost knocking the flag out of the hole at the first only to scuttle over the green, then hit the flag with his 252-yard approach to the par-five second but ricocheted 50 feet right from where a three-putt was almost inevitable given the ridge protecting the path to the hole.

That he had to wait until the 18th to record his lone birdie of the day by chipping in from 11 yards said it all about the testing conditions.

“It’s just tough to make birdies out here,” said Power, who would bogey the ninth, 12th and 15th before holing out for a three at the last. “I hit the pin on my second shot on the second today and I still couldn’t make a birdie.”

Keeping things in perspective, he added: “I am playing my first Masters, so no matter what happens, you are having a good week. It’s one of those courses that’s a blast to play.

“You have so many fun shots to play around here, and tomorrow I will probably hit every kind of shot I have in my wardrobe. So it’s fun and hopefully I can make a few putts.”

As for Tiger Woods, the five-time champion was suffering with his back as he made three birdies, five bogeys and two double-bogeys in a career-high 78 at Augusta National.

He had a four-putt at the fifth and another four three-putts in a 36-putt round to slip to tied 41st on seven-over.

“I felt like I didn’t really hit it that bad, but I had four three-putts and a four-putt,” Woods said. “I mean, it’s just like I hit a thousand putts out there on the greens today. Obviously, it’s affected the score. You take those away and I have normal two putts, I made even par for the day. I did what I needed to do ball striking-wise, but I did absolutely the exact opposite on the greens.”

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