The 148th Open Royal Portrush
The 148th Open
/
What happened on Day 3

Round 3 Full Highlights

What a day. Never has ‘moving day’ at The Open been more appropriately titled as Royal Portrush served up one of the most exciting Saturdays in the history of golf’s oldest major.

Home favourite Shane Lowry carded a sensational 63 to take a four-shot lead over his nearest rival Tommy Fleetwood - and he is now just 18 holes away from lifting the Claret Jug.

But there were birdies galore on the Dunluce Links as the chasing pack tried to keep up with the Irishman, with world No.1 Brooks Koepka among those climbing the leaderboard.

The action was breathless from start to finish and in case you missed any of it (what were you doing?), here’s a look at the best stories from an amazing day in County Antrim.

Flawless Fleetwood fires again

If you had told Tommy Fleetwood at the start of the day he would shoot a bogey-free 66 (-5) and still find himself four shots behind the lead, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.

The Englishman birdied the 1st and never looked back, picking up further shots on the 5th and 7th before adding more splashes of red to his scorecard on the 10th and 12th.

Fleetwood

He was tied with Lowry for large parts of the third round until the County Offaly native put his foot on the gas to reach -16 and open up a healthy advantage going into Sunday.

But while Fleetwood ended the day further away from the Claret Jug than when he started, the 28-year-old from Southport remains right in the hunt as he bids for a maiden major title.

“Personally I did a lot of things well,” he said. “Aside from hitting golf shots, everything that I set out to do before today started I felt like I was really good at.”

Sensational Shane steals the show

Lowry delivered the most complete performance of his career under the most intense pressure on Saturday at Royal Portrush as he put one hand on the Claret Jug.

The 32-year-old came within a whisker of matching the lowest ever major championship round as he reeled off eight birdies to take command of The 148th Open with a stunning 63.

Lowry’s round was a record for the Dunluce Links since the new holes came into play and was just two shy of 2014 Champion Golfer Rory McIlroy’s famous 61 on the old layout.

Fleetwood: Atmosphere is great for the sport

History now awaits Lowry on Sunday as he looks to become just the fifth man from the island of Ireland after Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and McIlroy to win The Open.

“I'm sitting here after shooting 63, which is incredible,” he said. “I'll go to bed thinking about holding the Claret Jug tomorrow evening. It's only natural, isn't it? We're human. We're not robots.”

Big names waiting in the wings

Should Lowry slip up on Sunday, there is no shortage of big names waiting in the wings to take advantage - including a strong contingent of American stars.

Friday’s joint overnight leader JB Holmes was far from his best playing alongside Lowry, but he still managed to shoot a 69 to keep in touch, six back on -10.

Brooks Koepka, who has won four majors in his last nine starts, is also in the mix once again after a shooting a 67 despite admitting he struggled with his putting during his third round.

Fowler

Elsewhere, Rickie Fowler climbed up the leaderboard with his best round of the week, a 66 taking him to -8, while Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth are in a group of players on -7.

It’s not just Fleetwood representing for England, though, with Lee Westwood (70) and Danny Willett (65) riding high in the top 10 on -8 and -7, respectively.

McNeill lives out Open dream

A man who had as much fun as Lowry was Royal Portrush pro Gary McNeill.

Playing as the marker alongside Paul Waring in the first group of the day, McNeill got the chance to live out his Open dream on the course he has called home for 20 years.

McNeill was joined on the bag by Paul ‘The Rocket’ Rodich, a member at Portrush for 45 years and a part-time caddie for 52, and said it was the realisation of a lifetime ambition.

“I have been to a lot of Opens but to experience it was unbelievable,” McNeill said. “I have been preparing for it in my mind for a long time but when you get the call, it’s amazing.

McNeill reflects on dream Open

“I slept well last night and I played okay, putted well and hit nicely off the tee. It was a lot of fun. I probably shot around 79 or 80. I am really glad I put myself through it.”

Adverse weather incoming

A four-shot lead may seem like a lot for Lowry, but it looks like he will have to contest with the weather as well as the rest of the field if he is to win his first major.

With adverse weather conditions forecast for the final day of The 148th Open, the tee times for Sunday’s round have been brought forward for what should be a thrilling climax.

The first tee time for the fourth and final round at Royal Portrush will be at 7.32am, with the final group - featuring Lowry and Fleetwood - beginning their final round at 1.47pm.

And with sell-out crowds making this Open the second-highest attended of all-time, spectators braving the wind and rain can look forward to some blockbuster Sunday pairings.

American duo Koepka and Holmes will be in the penultimate group, while the heavyweight pairing of Fowler and Justin Rose is also a mouth-watering prospect.