Lowry takes 3-shot lead into final round in Abu Dhabi

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Shane Lowry of Ireland shakes hands with Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa at the end of round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Shane Lowry of Ireland putts on the 18th green in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Shane Lowry of Ireland plays a bunker shot on the 17th hole in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Lee Westwood of England on the 14th hole in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa plays a shot on the 16th hole in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Richard Sterne of South Africa tees off on the 11th hole in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
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Ian Poulter of England on the 10th hole in round three of the Abu Dhabi Championship. (AP Photo)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Lowry takes 3-shot lead into final round in Abu Dhabi

  • Lowry shoots 5-under 67 in third round to extend lead to three strokes
  • Lowry made seven birdies to tie the best round of the day and stay on course for a wire-to-wire victory

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Shane Lowry kept up his brilliant scoring on the par-3 holes at the Abu Dhabi Championship in shooting a 5-under 67 in the third round to extend his lead to three strokes on Friday.
For the third straight day, the Irishman made birdie on the each of the short Nos. 7, 12, and 15 holes to strengthen his bid for a first victory in 3 1/2 years. His last win was in 2015 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
“I’ve been hitting some lovely iron shots,” said Lowry, who was on 17-under 199 overall. “It just so happens that I’ve hit them on the par threes.”
Richard Sterne of South Africa was the only player within four strokes of Lowry after a round of 69, which included his first and only bogey of the week. Sterne chipped in for eagle at the par-5 10th hole for one of the best shots of a breezy day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club when conditions were the hardest all week.
Sterne has had to wait even longer for a win, with his last of his six overall coming in 2013.
“Maybe there’s some magic left in me,” Sterne said.
Ian Poulter sent a 3-wood approach to 10 feet and rolled in the putt for eagle at No. 18 for a 69 to lift him into third place outright on 12 under, five shots off the lead. He will play in the next-to-last group with former winner Pablo Larrazabal (68, for 11 under).
Lowry, who tied the course record with a 62 in the first round, tied the best score of the third round and remained on course for a wire-to-wire victory. That would lift him back into the world’s top 50 and get him into golf’s showpiece events in 2019.
He is back playing on the European Tour after losing his US PGA Tour card last year and slipping to No. 75 in the rankings.
“I’m not going to say I feel invincible because we all know that this game is not easy, and it can jump up and bite you when you least expect it,” Lowry said.
In attacking the par 3s, he is 8 under in 12 holes. Nine of his 21 birdies this week have come on the course’s four short holes.
His bunker play has also been impressive, no more so than on No. 17 when he chipped out of the sand at the right of the green to within 2 feet to save par — just when Sterne was making a run at the lead.
Moments later, Sterne — who teed off on No. 18 just two shots back — miscued his second shot into a bunker that was left and well short of the green. After chipping onto the green, Sterne saw his birdie putt lip out.
Three-time major champion Brooks Koepka, who has a chance to return to No. 1 in the world this week, mixed five birdies with three bogeys for a 70 and was eight strokes behind alongside Lee Westwood (73).
Dustin Johnson was 13 shots off the lead after a 72.
Another shot back was Tommy Fleetwood (72), whose hopes of a third straight title in Abu Dhabi looked to be over.


Celtics sweep Pacers; Warriors, Raptors take 3-1 leads

Updated 22 April 2019
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Celtics sweep Pacers; Warriors, Raptors take 3-1 leads

  • It’s the first four-game sweep for the Celtics since 2011

INDIANAPOLIS: Gordon Hayward scored 20 points and Marcus Morris started a decisive 3-point flurry late in the fourth quarter Sunday to give the Boston Celtics a series-clinching 110-106 victory at Indiana.
It’s the first four-game sweep for the Celtics since 2011 and their second since 1986-87, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs.
Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 22 points and Tyreke Evans finished with a playoff career-high of 21 to lead the Pacers. It still wasn’t enough to prevent Indiana from enduring its second first-round sweep in three years — the only two best-of-seven sweeps in franchise history.
WARRIORS 113, CLIPPERS 105
LOS ANGELES: Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Klay Thompson added 32 and Golden State beat Los Angeles to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Stephen Curry was in foul trouble for the second straight game and finished with 12 points. Andrew Bogut fouled out with 5:50 remaining in the game with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors were 17 of 19 from the free throw line. They controlled the boards, 49-33, led by Curry and Bogut with 10 rebounds apiece.
Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with a career-high 25 points. Danilo Gallinari added 16 points but was just 5 of 20 from the floor. Patrick Beverley had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
TRAIL BLAZERS 111, THUNDER 98
OKLAHOMA CITY: Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and Portland held Russell Westbrook without a basket in the second half in beating Oklahoma City to take a 3-1 lead in their series.
C.J. McCollum scored 27 points, Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and nine rebounds and Maurice Harkless added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers. Portland can close out the series Tuesday at home.
Paul George had 32 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder added 17 points.
Westbrook scored 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting. He missed his final 10 shots and was 0 for 7 for one point in the second half.
RAPTORS 107, MAGIC 85
ORLANDO, Florida: Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and Toronto beat Orlando to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell each scored 16 for the Raptors, who can advance with a home win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Toronto has now won three consecutive postseason games, only the third time that’s happened in franchise history.
Aaron Gordon scored 25 for the Magic, making his first seven shots of the second half. Evan Fournier scored 19 and Nikola Vucevic added 11 for the Magic, who committed 17 turnovers that became 21 Toronto points.