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The 148th Open Royal Portrush

Talking Points


Lowry’s brilliant back-nine moves him closer to Claret Jug

It was a round that lit up Portrush and Shane Lowry is happy to admit that he will go to bed ahead of the biggest day of his life dreaming of holding the Claret Jug aloft.

That dream has a legitimate chance of becoming a reality thanks to a scintillating Saturday performance that saw him produce a round of 63 to blow the rest of the field away.

The Irishman was impeccable around the Dunluce Links as he made eight birdies and zero bogeys to break the course record in its current layout and move to -16 for the Championship, four strokes clear of nearest challenger Tommy Fleetwood – who surely wouldn’t have expected the gap to the leader to be so big after posting a 66 of his own.

But Lowry gained five strokes on the back-nine – at 10, 12, 15, 16 and 17 – to go with the birdies at the 3rd and 5th holes.

Crowd spur Shane on

A raucous crowd were there for every step the 32-year-old took as pop songs and football chants rung round Royal Portrush, saluting their hero and the man himself was quick to highlight the role the fans played.

“That's the most incredible day I've ever had on a golf course,” said Lowry. “I can't describe what it was like.

“I said walking off the 17th tee 'we might never have a day like this again, let's enjoy this last 30 minutes'. The crowd was incredible – every time I had a putt, I wanted to hole it to hear that roar!

“This means an awful lot. If I'm sat in this position tomorrow evening, it will mean everything... but I've got a family now and whatever happens, I know I'll have my two-year-old there waiting for me.

"When I'm nervous I like to talk about it. I don't want to bottle it up... I'm not going to be in the house, not thinking about it. Of course I'll go to bed tonight thinking about lifting the Claret Jug."

Coping with conditions

Lowry made hay on Saturday with the sun shining and conditions fairly still but it could be a different case on Sunday.

The tee times have been brought forward due to an adverse weather forecast and despite a four-stroke advantage, Lowry is taking nothing for granted.

“I know tomorrow is going to be a difficult day,” he added. “I know there's some bad weather coming in but I'm in a good position and I just have to do what I've been doing all year – hit the reset button tonight and go out there and shoot as good a score as I can tomorrow.

“Hopefully that's good enough tomorrow evening. Tommy Fleetwood grew up in Southport, he's played in bad weather and bad conditions before. J.B. Holmes flights the ball lovely, he's pretty good and Brooks [Koepka] is there, so it’s a good leaderboard behind me.

“I know it's going to rain. I know it's going to be difficult at times and I have just have to try and shoot the best score I can. I'll be grinding hard and just trying to hit fairways, hit greens and hole the odd putt.”

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