by Ronan MacNamara
Shane Lowry by Golffile
Shane Lowry stole the show on Sunday as he made the tenth ever hole-in-one on the 17th at the Players Championship in round three.
Lowry towered a pitching wedge straight over the flag and the ball spun back, rattled the flagstick, and lipped in queuing pandemonium on the tee box and in the grandstands.
It’s the first ace on 17 since Ryan Moore in 2019 and after the island green caused carnage on Saturday, it was great to have reason to celebrate on that hole. Despair turned to joy and elation.
The Clara native picked his ball out of the hole and fired it into the gallery where there was a mass scramble to come away with the golden egg.
Lowry played the 17th hole in three shots on Sunday after birdieing it in his second round.
“Yeah, look, you go, you play this game, just special things happen sometimes,” said Lowry whose last ace came on 16 at Augusta National. “It's pretty cool to do it there, one of the most iconic holes in golf. Yeah, what can I say? It was a special thing to happen, and I'm looking forward to turning on my phone and seeing the messages I've got.
“Not only that, it put me back in the tournament somewhat. So it was amazing. It's been a long day today, and I'm glad to make the call and finish well today. Played the 17 hole twice and did it in three shots, so it doesn't owe me anything.”
The 2019 Open champion might have a double celebration on his hands when the sun sets on Monday evening as that ace catapulted him into contention.
“No, hopefully [have a beer] tomorrow night. Hopefully celebrating something else. But, yeah, I'm going to have one tomorrow night.”
Lowry was two-under after two birdies in three holes before he doubled his score on the 17th. With his heart rate sky high after the jubilation, he gave one back on the 18th but rallied with back-to-back birdies to get to five-under.
Three successive pars followed for the Offaly man before the hooter was sounded for darkness.
Lowry leads the Irish charge in a share of 11th on five-under and is four shots adrift of unlikely leader Anirban Lahiri who has a one-shot lead over Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III who finished in style almost holing out for eagle from the fairway on 9.
“I'm excited for tomorrow now. If it's a long day tomorrow, I can do something hopefully in the morning and finish it off in the afternoon,” he said.
The 34-year-old is hoping he can find more fairways on Sunday as he looks for something special to arrest a 32-month winless streak after going agonizingly close at the Honda Classic two weeks ago.
“I just think I need to hit more fairways. I don't think I'm hitting enough fairways. I struggled the first two rounds definitely. Today was better, this afternoon was better. If you put the ball in the fairway out there, you're going to give yourself chances. The greens are soft.
“I'm not sure what the weather conditions are tomorrow, but like I said, hopefully I can get out there and make a few putts and make a few birdies and get another hole-in-one or something.
“No, it's been one of those days where I look back on it, and myself and Bo were laughing about it. We've done some pretty cool things together, and there's another one to kind of chuck off the list. Yeah, it was special.”
Seamus Power recovered from an early double-bogey to move to three-under through 13 holes of his third round.
The West Waterford native birdied the par-5 2nd before registering a six on the par-4 4th. He responded well with birdies on five and eleven to move to one-under for the day and into the top-32.
Power will resume his round from the 14th hole with an 11-yard chip after he chose not to finish out the hole.
Rory McIlroy is one-over for his opening nine and three-over for the championship. Needing a quick start, the Holywood native birdied the par-5 11th but gave two shots away on 14 and 15 after finding the water on the former.
The leaderboard is bunched with 31 players separated by just five shots ahead of the conclusion of round three and the start of round four.
After the golf course had the players on the ropes for the first three days, it was their turn to throw punches on Sunday as the wind died and temperatures rose.
Front foot golf was the order of the day and Sebastian Munoz and 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari are both six and five-under respectively for their third rounds deep into the back nine.