The Masters: Irish players stall on moving day as hopes fade

Shane Lowry holed out from the pine straw for an eagle two on the 14th

Moving day? More like stalling day, as Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry – tasked with charging on a firmer course with wind yet again a factor – remained among the pack some way adrift of those with genuine aspirations of a acquiring a green jacket in a third round of this 88th Masters that left more questions unanswered.

McIlroy, resigned to making the journey back up Magnolia Lane in a year’s time in his bid to complete the career Grand Slam, signed for a 71 for a 54-holes total of three-over-par 219, just inside the top-30 when he completed his round.

At least McIlroy managed some birdies, after Friday’s birdie-free round where he managed no forward momentum at all. His third round 71 – featured three birdies (on the second, eighth and 14th) – but he again failed to birdie the Par 5s 13th and 15th holes and will head into Sunday’s final round aiming to play his way up the leaderboard but aware a first Major since his 2014 US PGA success is beyond reach.

“All I can do is come here and try my best. That’s what I do every time I show up. Some years it’s better than others. I’ve just got to keep showing up and try to do the right thing,” said McIlroy of another Masters without his desired outcome who claimed it was all about keeping his patience: “That’s all you can be. You can’t really do anything else. You’ve got to try to have as much acceptance as possible and try to keep hitting good shots and move on.”


And although his swing remains a work in progress, having sought out Butch Harmon to complement his work with coach Michael Bannon, McIlroy – who has added next week’s RBC Heritage Classic on to his schedule in a bid to move up the FedEx Cup standings – added:

“I made good progress last week in San Antonio (in the Valero Texas Open last week), my strokes gained numbers and approach were good. I would say my strokes gained approach numbers today were probably pretty good. So, it’s getting better. It’s definitely better than what it was through the Florida swing (on the PGA Tour).

Shane Lowry holed-out from the pine straw for an eagle two on the 14th – raising his eyes and arms to the heavens – which proved to be the standout moment of his third round, and timely too given that it came after a bogey-bogey-bogey run from the 10th and a failure to birdie the Par 5 13th. But it was an outlier on a card that featured far too many bogeys.

Ultimately, Lowry signed for a disappointing 75 for a 54-holes total of six-over-par 222, a day of moving into reverse rather than the forward momentum he’d set out for.

“A disappointing day, but what can you do? I feel like I’m playing the golf to be there or thereabouts, but, yeah, just not scoring ... unfortunately, the game that we play, there’s more days like this than there is good days. I’m old enough now and mature enough now to take it on the chin and move on,” said Lowry.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times