The National Times - Could an Irishman be wearing the green jacket at last?

Could an Irishman be wearing the green jacket at last?

Could an Irishman be wearing the green jacket at last?
Could an Irishman be wearing the green jacket at last?

Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, is contending to become the first Irishman to win the Masters while Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy appears out of luck again.

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Lowry stumbled on the back nine but fired a one-over par 73 in cold and windy conditions Saturday in the third round to share fourth on two-under 214 after 54 holes at Augusta National.

That left him seven adrift of world number one Scottie Scheffler, whose lead was trimmed from five strokes to three entering Sunday's final round.

"I'm quite disappointed," Lowry said after three bogeys in the last 10 holes. "I'll have to pick myself up and get at it tomorrow. Hopefully I can go low.

"It's hard. I'm playing the best golf I've ever played and how many times do I get a chance to play the best golf I've ever played at Augusta in the Masters."

McIlroy, a four-time major winner chasing a green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam, shot 71 to share ninth on 217, 10 strokes adrift of Scheffler.

"It has been a tough couple of days, and I've just sort of hung in there as best as I could," McIlroy said.

"Not really conditions favorable for going low and trying to get close to the leaders. So it's just sort of hanging in there and doing the best that you can."

The Masters is the only major never won by an Irish player. McIlroy, ranked ninth, spoke like a man who accepted he'll come up empty a 14th time.

"I moved up a few places with that score today and (I'll) just try to move up a few more tomorrow and try to get a top 10 and move on," McIlroy said.

"I played well. It's just hard to go very low out there. Anything under par is a good score. It's just blustery. There's no easy birdies. Even the par-5s aren't."

Ireland's Seamus Power, sharing 36th on 222, would like to see the Emerald Isle capture golf's greatest prize of a similar shade -- the Masters green jacket.

"Hopefully Shane or Rory can kind of make a run," Power said. "It would be incredible. There has never been an Irish winner here, so it would be something special.

"Shane has a knack for having these amazing moments in golf. Nothing would surprise me with him. He's a major champion. He knows what he's doing."

Lowry, ranked 35th, birdied the par-5 second and par-3 sixth, the latter on a 16-foot putt, but he missed an 11-foot par putt to close the front nine.

Lowry made bogeys at the par-5 13th, missing a four-footer for par, and par-4 17th, where he found a greenside bunker, to fall into a share of fourth.

"I'm disappointed in my own self for that last 10 holes," Lowry said. "I just hit a few bad shots... and that just seemed to kill all my momentum that I had."

"I was quite bullish about my game going out there and felt ready to kind of take on Scottie and I just didn't do it.

"I've never been in this position at Augusta, so it's the first time for me. What's possible? There's a 65 out there in good conditions, but it just depends what the other guys ahead of me do."

- 'I'm getting soft' -

Despite the often blustery and cold conditions of his homeland, McIlroy struggled with wind and cold under the Georgia pines.

"The gusts are what makes it pretty difficult at times," he said. "It's not just about judging the wind, but it's also hitting the ball at the right time."

McIlroy used four hand warmers during the round.

"I'm getting soft," he said. "I've been living in Florida for too long now, so this is cold for me."