The 31 year old secured the most recent of his three victories at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational over three years ago but he is in pole position with one round remaining after posting a third-round 67.
Lowry showcased his short-game prowess on a breezy afternoon at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, mixing seven birdies – including three in a row from the sixth – with two bogeys on Friday to get to 17 under par.
“I played good. 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 get ready tomorrow and give it my best tomorrow and see what happens,” Dowry stated at the end of the day’s play.
“Obviously we’re playing in a world-class field on a very difficult golf course. I think I just need to go out and stay aggressive and just play my own game and try and make as many birdies as I can. That’s the way I play golf. If I can do that, hopefully I can be up there at the end of the day and give myself a chance coming down the last few,” he added.
Richard Sterne, who has not been in the winner’s circle since clinching his sixth European Tour title at the Joburg Open in 2013, was Lowry’s nearest challenger on 14 under following his third-round 69.
Meanwhile, Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter finished his round with an eagle to head into the final day in third place on 12 under – one shot clear of 2014 Champion Pablo Larrazábal – with Belgian Thomas Pieters, Dane Søren Kjeldsen, and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson a further shot off the pace.
Shane Lowry was still the man to catch at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after following up Wednesday’s course record-equaling 62 with a battling 70.
After a rocky start to his second round, three-time European Tour winner Lowry found the form that helped him match Henrik Stenson’s 13-year-old record on day one at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, bouncing back from two early bogeys with four birdies to get to 12 under par.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne were a single shot behind Lowry in a tie for second after posting second-round 68s.
Early clubhouse leader Lee Westwood was in fourth place on 10 under, with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Englishmen Ian Poulter and Tom Lewis another stroke further back.
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Tommy Fleetwood held his nerve to fire the birdie he needed at the 18th to make the cut.
Irishman Lowry said: “I’m really happy with that. I knew today was going to be a bit of a weird day after shooting such a low score yesterday.
“I just tried to go out and play like I played. To be honest, right from the start, I really feel like I played pretty well today. I think I gave myself a lot of chances.
“Some of the shots early on were pretty horrendous. I battled back and hit some really nice shots out there and hit some in close and made some birdies. I was happy with myself.”
Oosthuizen added: “Trying to win any event and going into the weekend really close, it’s always exciting. I try and get my game so that I try and compete every week or at least top 30 every week.
“But yeah, you have some weeks where you struggle where that’s difficult, but other weeks it seems easy to make a top ten. So you just need to go through all those emotions and just keep on plugging.”
Compatriot Sterne said: “It’s been a while since I’ve been at the top. Listen, there’s a long way to go, 36 holes, and some really tough players up there and top players. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully get off to a good start tomorrow and a decent weekend.”
Southport native Fleetwood came into the tournament looking to make it three titles in a row after claiming the title in both 2017 and 2018.
But after struggling for the first half of the event, he is just happy to still be in contention.
“It was nice to get one in. My putting was pretty awful today,” said the Team Europe Ryder Cup star.
“I just struggled on the greens. The things that I wanted to do better from yesterday, I did, but just a couple of short ones missed and then just holed nothing at any makeable range.
“But you can’t stress enough the importance of just making cuts anyway in professional golf. That’s the game. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Making cuts is great, and I’m very happy that I’ve gotten another two days of golf.”
Practice made perfect for Ireland’s Shane Lowry as he equalled the course record with a stunning 62 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
Lowry carded 10 birdies and no bogeys to set a daunting clubhouse target of 10 under par, with France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera and the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne his nearest challengers on seven under.
World number two Brooks Koepka, who can return to the top of the rankings with a victory this week, is five shots off the pace following a 67, with defending champion Tommy Fleetwood two shots further back in pursuit of a third straight win in the £5.4million event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Lowry has not played competitively since finishing 10th alongside Paul Dunne in the World Cup in Melbourne in November, but reaped the rewards of a lengthy spell of practice at the start of the new year.
“I had a lovely break at Christmas,” said Lowry, whose 62 equalled the record set by Henrik Stenson in the inaugural edition of the event in 2006. “I was home for the whole lot of it and I came out here with my family and rented a house in Dubai.
“We’ve had it since the third of January. Myself and Paul Dunne are sharing the house and we’re practising together and we’ve been playing a lot together over at the Els Club in Dubai, and we got some great work done.
“I feel good about my game. It’s probably the best pre-season I’ve ever done, and it showed today. I’m just hoping I can keep going.
“I didn’t hit as many fairways as I would have liked, but I was hitting everything close and managed to hole a couple of putts as well. It was one of those days where it just felt comfortable.
“But look, I just want to enjoy it because it’s a great day and I think it equals my best round I’ve ever had, so enjoy it and then get out tomorrow and see what I can do.”