Jason Day closes in at Players Championship as McIlroy and Lowry stutter at Sawgrass

Graeme McDowell shot a 69 to climb the leaderboard during a treacherous third round

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry struggled to maintain their momentum at the Players Championship as the pair endured difficult third round at Sawgrass.

Lowry began the day just three shots off the outright leader, Jason Day, but his good work in the opening rounds - which included a 65, followed by a 68 - was undone in the first four holes.

The Clara native picked up two bogeys and a double bogey in his opening three holes to slide down the leaderboard.

After a bogey on the fourth, he steadied himself to close out the front nine without another blip. A birdie on 11 was the only solace of a testing round, closing out the back nine with another two bogeys.

He finished on six-over-par for the day, slipping out of the top ten.

Rory McIlroy had a similarly difficult time with the lightning quick greens, but carded two birdies and a bogey on the front nine. 

It was after the turn that the Holywood golfer began to wobble, a bogey on 10 was followed by consecutive dropped shots on 12 and 13.

A double bogey on the the par-four 15th took the wind out of his sails, but a strong finish saw him pick up a birdie and then par the treacherous 17th.

Graeme McDowell picked up four birdies on the back nine to help him to card a three under par, the Irish trio all now level on five-under-par ahead of the final round of action. 

They finish their respective rounds just after 6pm Irish time.