Shane Lowry In Control Heading Into Open Championship Final Round

It might not have worked out quite as expected but there’s an Irishman on the top of the leaderboard at Royal Portrush. Sure, the expectation was that it would be Rory McIlroy or at the very least Graeme McDowell or Darren Clark. Nope–instead it’s Shane Lowry who was given very little notice before the start of the Open Championship. Before the event began golf betting odds had Lowry installed at prices in excess of 100-1 to win the event.

The storyline was that Rory McIlroy would put on a show to commemorate the first major held in Northern Ireland since 1951. He put on a show alright-the bad kind. His first round began with a quadruple bogie on the first hole and ended with a triple bogey on 18 at Royal Portrush–a course that he had flat out dominated throughout his career. McIlroy couldn’t overcome an opening round 79 but he gave his fans a more positive show on Friday. In the second round, he shot a 6 under 65, improving on his opening round effort by 14 shots. Unfortunately, his furious comeback fell a bit short and he missed the cut by a single stroke. He wasn’t the only big name to miss the cut–Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Adam Scott were other elite golfers to have their weekend cut short.

That leaves the low key but extremely affable Lowry as the big hope for Irish golf heading into the Final Round. He absolutely blistered the track on Saturday to finish with a course record 63 leaving him four shots up on Tommy Fleetwood at -12. You have to feel for Fleetwood who shot an excellent -5 under for the day and yet only moved up one spot on the leader board. JB Holmes is in third place after a -2 under day but there’s some big names on the move behind him. Brooks Koepka quietly shot a -4 under on Saturday and is now in a tie for fourth with Justin Rose.

Even with Koepka’s run up the leaderboard he remains 7 back of the leader. If Lowry shoots even an average round on Sunday he’s won the tournament. The bad news is that his biggest opponent in the fourth round could be himself. Lowry had a four stroke lead going into the final round of the 2016 US Open only to shoot a 76 as Dustin Johnson came from behind to take the victory. There’s only one golfer in history to blow multiple leads of four or more strokes after 54 holes of a major–Greg Norman. Lowry definitely doesn’t want to be number 2.

Fortunately for Lowry, there’s not a clear cut challenger for him to deal with. Koepka’s putting game his bedeviled him all week. Should Lowry falter, Ricky Fowler is another golfer that could move up quickly and challenge for the win. There’s also the risk of nasty weather on Sunday and the tee times have been moved up by an hour to avoid it. The weather could actually help Lowry as it could serve as ‘the great equalizer’. Lowry has every chance to win this tournament but should he falter you could do worse than a position on Brooks Koepka (+1000) or Ricky Fowler (+5000).

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