Shane Lowry leads the way heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi. Kamran Jebreili
On the brink

'I just started laughing when I birdied 15': Relaxed Shane Lowry ready for final stretch in Abu Dhabi

The Offaly man leads the way heading into the final round of the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi.

IT’S ALL LOOKING pretty rosy for Shane Lowry.

With two wins as a professional to his name (Lowry the Irish Open in 2009 as an amateur) the Offaly man is just one round away from a first tournament victory in more than three years.

After a blistering opening round of 62 in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, the 31-year-old has enjoyed his time in the desert and is on the cusp of kick-starting his season less than three weeks into the new year.

Lowry starts his final round with a three-shot lead over South African Richard Sterne and speaking after today’s round said he was savouring every minute of his current form.

“I played well,” he told reporters. “I felt very comfortable out there today and very happy with that. Very excited about tomorrow.

“Obviously I’m in a great position. It’s been a while since I’ve been up having a lead going into Sunday. I’ll enjoy it.

“Have a nice dinner tonight and give it my best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Abu Dhabi Golf Shane Lowry shakes hands with Louis Oosthuizen after his round. Kamran Jebreili Kamran Jebreili

Friday’s round saw him pick up seven birdies and card just two bogeys in his penultimate round.

I just started laughing when I birdied 15.

“Yeah, look, my iron play has been good. I think if you go back to Race to Dubai, I was 6-under par for the par 3s that tournament, and it’s just been good. I managed to hole a few good putts, as well.

“Play the par 3s well and the par 5s as well, and you should shoot a decent score.”

Sterne led the chase on the Clara native with an eagle and a birdie on the back nine, but Lowry admitted his only focus was on himself.

“There’s actually only a few leaderboards out there, which is pretty nice.

“I got to, I don’t know what hole it was, but the 12th green, and I saw Richard Sterne was making a few.

I was just all about my own game and trying to make as many birdies as I can and when I got in trouble, trying to make pars. I thought I did that well today.”

Today’s 67 means he still has a considerable cushion heading into Saturday’s final round and the Irishman knows what’s ahead of him.

“We’re in a world-class field here this week so I know they are going to come out firing tomorrow.

So I need to stay aggressive and try to make as many birdies as I can and see where that leaves me on the 18th green.

“Obviously I need to go out and play my own game and stay aggressive and see what the lads behind me can do.

“I think, you know, it’s the same old golf clichés, one shot at a time and try to not get ahead of myself and just enjoy the day and enjoy being in the position I’m in.”

Ahead of the final weekend of European pool games, Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look at what each of the provinces can expect, and who impressed last weekend:

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