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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Conditions prove to be a breeze for Shane Lowry as he extends lead at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA

The Irishman leads by three shots from Richard Sterne going into Saturday's final round and vows to enjoy being in the last pairing on the course

Shane Lowry gave an exhibition in how to play in breezy conditions as he extended his lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships presented by EGA to three shots.

The Irishman will start Saturday's last round on 17-under par. He will play in the final group alongside Richard Sterne, whose third-round 69 took him to 14-under for the tournament. Ian Poulter sits in third, on 12-under.

Lowry had equalled the course record on the opening day of this tournament as he fired a sparkling 62. His third-round effort of 67 might not have been quite as eye-catching on the scoreboard, but was every bit as impressive given the added test of the strong winds.

The windy conditions meant scoring was tougher than on each of the first two rounds, but Lowry still made seven birdies.

"I felt very comfortable out there and I'm happy with that," 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 final day]. I'll enjoy it."

Pablo Larrazabal maintained a slender hope of reprising his 2014 title win in Abu Dhabi, with another sparkling round.

His 68 was the third-best of the third round, after Lowry and Maximilian Kieffer each made 67, and he said he relished the wintry weather.

“When I saw the forecast and I knew that there was some wind coming, it put a smile on my face,” Larrazabal said.

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“I miss a lot from the tee with no wind and perfect conditions. I’m still going to be missing a lot in poor conditions, and the [other[ people are going to miss more.

“I play my game when there’s a lot of wind, hit 5-woods on par fours in two from the rough, all that kind of stuff, and up-an-downs from everywhere to try to save par. It’s the game I’ve always played, that’s how I am.”

The fact Poulter is in contention is remarkable. The Englishman had 34 hours of travel from Hawaii – which is 14 time zones apart from Abu Dhabi - to make it to the capital the day before the tournament started, yet has betrayed few signed of tiredness on course.

“I haven’t felt too bad, I think I’ve got over most of the jet-lag,” Poulter said.

“I haven’t hit any balls after the round and I haven’t done what I would normally do, so I’ve been resting a lot and hopefully that helps [in the final round]."

A first Abu Dhabi title now seems out of reach for Brooks Koepka. The world No 2 from the United States reached 9-under for the tournament with a round of 70 on Friday.

The three-time major winner had been targeting a win in the capital as he bids for a returns to the top of the world rankings, a position currently held by Justin Rose.

“I just focus on the job at hand, but it does mean a lot to me,” Koepka said of the world No 1 ranking.

“I think that’s such a cool honour, to be the best in the world. I don’t take it lightly. Every day I’m trying to improve on that and I’d like to gain that lead.

“But Rosey is playing so well. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully squeak out a few Ws.”

Updated: January 18, 2019 05:33 PM

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