Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Ireland's Lowry takes British Open lead at Portrush

James Sugrue needs players to drop strokes down the field to make the cut for the weekend James Sugrue needs players to drop strokes down the field to make the cut for the weekend
Shannon Reynolds | 21 July, 2019, 21:29

It kept going and going, long after one of the prettiest 63s anybody ever saw had concluded, until it tingled both the back end of the golf course and the back end of the neck.

He shot an Open record 29 on the back nine yesterday to card an opening round three under par 68, but four bogies and a double bogey undid him in today's second round. "But everyone in Northern Ireland who came out to watch me, they definitely played theirs". Hometown favorite Rory McIlroy has struggled from the outset, while Jordan Spieth has shaken off his recent issues and remains in the top ten.

"As I was walking off the 12th tee, I said to myself: 'Let's try and get to eight (under)".

"Put it this way, it will be a very, very good effort if it's me, and if it's not me or Shane, it will be a very, very good effort for somebody else".

"I'm assuming they probably do", Koepka said. The weather forecast suggests heavy rain and high winds at Portrush.

Reality was a bogey-bogey finish and a disappointing six-over par week.

The Irishman rolled home the resulting birdie putt to move out in front on his own at 12 under and never looked back as he added more birdies at 12, 15, 16 and 17.

"I know what it's going to be like".

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Shane Lowry was due to do battle with the elements as well as the chasing pack in his bid to the win The Open at Royal Portrush on Sunday.

And thousands who filled these links off the North Atlantic could sense it when Lowry, after his fourth bogey in seven holes, rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to stretch his lead to six shots over Tommy Fleetwood.

"I finished out on the 18th and said to Bo at least I won't have to answer any questions about Oakmont".

"I feel like if I get the opportunity this week I'll be better. I had a different body and I was able to be a little bit more consistent". "I think that's what will help me tomorrow". Lowry never recovered from a hard start at Oakmont and struggled to a six-over 76, eventually finishing three shots adrift of Dustin Johnson - who himself had to endure a nervy penalty-shot controversy to win what is to date his only victory in one of golf's big four. Kentuckian Holmes, paired with Lowry on Saturday after thriving Thursday and Friday, shot a perfectly commendable 69, recognized the experience as so much of what sports are about and called it "something I'll never forget". I've hit it as good as I can possibly imagine. "I putted the worst in the entire field". "It's been really bad".

Shane Lowry surely understands, too, though his memories are more bittersweet.

"I love the atmosphere". He started the day at 10-under par. Now? "I just can't believe what it was like".

"Thankfully it's going to blow tomorrow to have any sort of chance", Koepka said, "(but) I need to figure out the putter".

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