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The 148th Open Royal Portrush

The 148th Open


What to look out for on Day 3

It’s moving day at The 148th Open as the contenders for the Claret Jug look to lay down a marker in their bid to be crowned 2019 Champion Golfer of the Year at Royal Portrush.

While Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Darren Clarke were among the big names to fall at the first hurdle, the other end of the leaderboard is a feast for the eyes.

There’s home interest in the shape of Ireland’s very own Shane Lowry, who is tied for the lead with JB Holmes, but at least 30 players are still in the hunt for the year’s final major.

And with conditions looking good for low scoring around the famous Dunluce Links, here are the main headlines and talking points ahead of what should be a fascinating Saturday.

Can leaders maintain pace?

Shane Lowry carded a second consecutive 67 at Royal Portrush on Friday to join American JB Holmes at the summit of the leaderboard going into the weekend.

The 32-year-old rattled off three birdies in his first three holes and was five-under through the front nine, getting to 10-under for the Championship with another birdie on the 10th.

While a couple of bogeys on the way in pegged him back, the County Offaly native appears to be thriving in the pressure-cooker environment of leading The Open on home soil.

His final grouping with Holmes looks set to be blockbuster viewing and while he may come from the Republic, Lowry’s challenge is attracting vocal support from both the north and south.

English trio right in the hunt

Tommy Fleetwood will hope he can take inspiration from Ryder Cup partner and 2018 Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari as he continues his quest for a maiden major title.

The 28-year-old from Southport has finished T-27 and T-12 in his last two Open appearances and looks in prime position to go one step better, sitting just one behind the leaders.

He is joined on seven under by fellow Englishman and perennial ‘nearly man’ Lee Westwood, a runner-up at The Open in 2010, who finished Friday with a flourish to put himself in the hunt.

A further shot back is the 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose, a runner-up last year at Carnoustie and a man with experience of getting the job done on the weekend.

Americans positioned for charge

With four majors in his last nine starts, Brooks Koepka’s name is an ominous presence on the leaderboard - especially with Portrush native caddie Rickie Elliott at his side.

Koepka admitted he didn’t have the rub of the green on Friday despite firing a steady 69 to trail by three shots and the 29-year-old will be a danger if the putts do start to drop.

Then there’s Jordan Spieth. The 2017 Champion Golfer always seems to come good at The Open and once again finds himself in contention going into the weekend on five under.

Having also been one of the 54-hole leaders at Carnoustie last year, Spieth knows what it takes to lift the Claret Jug and his 67 on Friday showed all the signs of a man on a mission.

Will moving day live up to name?

There’s a reason why Saturday is called moving day and with an illustrious list of names making it through to the weekend, a charge from someone lower down the leaderboard is inevitable.

A two-time winner on Irish soil, Jon Rahm is in good shape to trouble the leaders on four under for the Championship, while world number two Dustin Johnson is only a shot further back.

Elsewhere, 2016 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson is eyeing another Claret Jug as he also sits on three under along with Rickie Fowler, a runner up behind Rory McIlroy at The Open in 2014.

Sergio Garcia, a twice runner-up at The Open, is another who will fancy a Saturday charge - with fellow major winners Justin Thomas and Danny Willett also lurking on one under.

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