The end of the round may not quite have been what he had in mind but Shane Lowry’s flying start ensured he will lead The 148th Open heading into the weekend and he’s allowing his thoughts to wander to lifting the Claret Jug come Sunday.
Being given an afternoon tee time and having to watch large swathes of the field surpass his overnight score of -4 in the friendly morning conditions, Lowry was like a caged tiger when finally hitting the course.
Birdies on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and then 5th hole took him to -8 and a tie for the lead with JB Holmes before further strokes gained at the 8th and a monster putt at 10 got him double digits under-par for the Championship – a two-stroke advantage on the field.
From there, his play became scrappier and one shot went at 14 before he came up short of the green at 18 and then missed an eight-footer for par to sign for a second consecutive 67, taking him to -8 – good enough for the co-lead with Holmes and the duo will be the final group on Saturday.
Dreaming of victory
“You start thinking about it [winning The Open] when people start asking you about it,” said Lowry.
“Look, I'm obviously going to be thinking about it tonight. There's no point in shying away from it. I'm in a great position.
“But, my God, have we got a long way to go. There's two rounds of golf on this golf course against the best field in the world.
“The one thing I have to do is go out, I keep saying the same thing all the time – I've been doing great, I shot 67 but I need to go out and shoot the best score I can tomorrow. Hopefully it leaves me in a decent position on into Sunday.
“If I give myself a chance to do something very special here on Sunday, no matter what happens it will be a great week.
“Hopefully I can go out tomorrow and shoot a decent one but if I don't, it won't be the end of the world.
“That's where I'm at mentally. I'll still be getting on an aeroplane Monday to go to Memphis, regardless of what happens Sunday.”
You can’t help but smile
As an Irishman, Lowry is receiving even more support than most around the Dunluce Links – making for an experience like none he’s ever experienced.
“I really don't think I’ve played under crowds like this before. It was incredible right from the first hole,” added Lowry.
“And even the crowd didn't seem that big around the third green, but the roar at the putt was unbelievable. When I holed that putt on 10, that long one on 10, it was just incredible.
“You can't but smile, you can't but laugh how it is. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling.
“It's an incredible feeling getting applauded on every green, every tee box. I'm out there giving my best, trying to do my best for everyone.”