Lowry to take three-shot Abu Dhabi lead into final round

Shane Lowry will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as he bids to win his first European Tour title since 2015.

The Irishman had been three clear of the rest after the opening 18 on Wednesday, when he fired 62 to tie the course record, and Lowry restored that cushion with a five-under 67 to take him to a 54-hole total of 17 under par.

Lowry, 31, is a three-time winner on the Tour, though the most recent of those victories came at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational a little over three years ago.

Richard Sterne, who had been just a shot adrift of Lowry after Thursday’s play, is at 14 under while Ian Poulter eagled the par-five 18th to leave himself five back.

There were two bogeys on Lowry’s scorecard but seven birdies, three of which came in a row at the sixth, seventh and eighth after he had lost his outright lead.

“I felt very comfortable out there today and I’m very happy with that, very excited about tomorrow,” Lowry said.

“Obviously I’m in a great position. It’s been a while since I’ve been up having a lead [going into the last day].

“I’ll enjoy it, have a nice dinner tonight and get ready and give it my best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Lee Westwood dropped out of contention having followed up his two sub-70 rounds with a one-over 73.

The former world number one took a light-hearted view of his Friday struggles, writing on Instagram: “Played out of sand 13 times today. Must be some kind of record!”