Shane Lowry sets sights on maiden major after wowing Open crowd with new Portrush record
If Rory McIlroy’s exit disappointed Northern Irish fans then the man south of the border revitalised them on Saturday afternoon as eight birdies moved him to 16-under par.
Not one hole went awry as Lowry thrilled the locals on a memorable day in County Antrim where Tommy Fleetwood also made a charge, ending on 12-under par.
Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and JB Holmes also held their own but all trail the superb Lowry by seven shots.
The Irishman made three birdies in the front nine before ramping up his game even more on holes 10 to 18.
A late rally of birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th saw him end the round to a rapturous applause after cries of ‘Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole’ welcomed him to the final green.
Speaking after his historic round, Lowry told Sky Sports: “My mind’s still a bit fuzzy, I just really enjoyed today.
“I played great golf, the crowd were incredible and I just felt so comfortable out there.
“I’m hoping to feel that comfortable out there tomorrow, I know it’s going to be a tough 24 hours ahead of me but there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
“I’ve got a four-shot lead in an Open Championship in Ireland! Tomorrow is going to be incredible regardless of what happens.
“I just felt so in control of my game. There are very few times as a golfer you feel like that and it’s just great when it happens.
“Every time I get a putt I just want to hole it because of the roar. I said to Paul walking off the 17th tee: ‘The next half an hour we might never experience like this again. So let’s enjoy it.’”
Lowry famously let slip a four-shot lead at the 2016 US Open but is adamant to not let the same happen on Sunday.
“I’m hoping I’m going to be able to deal with it better,” he said.
“It’s going to be difficult, I know it’s going to be hard but I’m ready for it.”