Shane Lowry of Ireland entered the third round of the British Open tied with J.B. Holmes at 8-under par. Several other contenders were within a few strokes, including a pair of Englishman in Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood.
The 32-year-old Lowry rocketed past the competition with a course record 8-under 63, placing him four strokes ahead of Fleetwood for the lead entering the final day at Royal Portrush. This means he is 18 holes away from his first major championship.
“I just felt so comfortable out there and hope I do tomorrow,” he told the Telegraph. “I have a tough 24 hours ahead of me, but there’s nowhere I would rather be. I have a four-shot lead in an Open in Ireland. Tomorrow is going to be incredible no matter what happens.”
If he holds onto the lead on Sunday, Lowry would be the second golfer from the Republic of Ireland to win the Open Championship. Padraig Harrington won two in a row in 2007 and 2008.
In addition, three Northern Irish golfers have claimed the Claret Jug. Rory McIlroy won in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, as did Darren Clarke in 2011 at Royal St. George’s. Fred Daly also won at Liverpool in 1947.
Lowry’s Irish heritage is a very visible part of his brand. He sports Bank of Ireland apparel, and his reddish-brown beard is one of his more distinguishable features.
Shane Lowry Bio & Background in Ireland
Lowry was born in Clara, County Offaly, Ireland. Clara is located in central Ireland along the Brosna River.
He attended University College Dublin and eventually turned pro in 2009.
If he can win at Royal Portrush, which is located about a half-hour southeast of Belfast in Northern Ireland, it would hold special significance for the local audience.
As Michael Bamberger at Golf.com states, the reason it took 68 years for the British Open to return to Portrush was due to the civil strife between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants.
The real importance has everything to do with The Troubles, the euphemistic name for the war that divided Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants, Irish citizens in the north and Irish citizens in the south. The resounding cheering that greeted Lowry, a son of greater Dublin, received on Saturday for every birdie he made meant several things:
I. People like him.
II. To the fans gathered here, a golfer from Ireland is to be celebrated, without reservation, no matter what part of the island nation he comes from.
III. The Troubles belong to yesterday.
This weekend has seen several examples of Irish golfers earning praise. Clarke was the first to tee off on Thursday, which led to an emotional reaction from Northern Irishman, as well as the crowd.
In addition, McIlroy earned several big cheers for his excellent second round, which still managed to fall short of the cut due to a dreadful start.
Point being, many of the local at Royal Portrush are pulling for Lowry, even if he’s Irish rather than Northern Irish.