|The 148th Open Championship – third-round leaderboard|
|-16 S Lowry (Ire);-12 T Fleetwood (Eng);-10 JB Holmes (US);-9 B Koepka (US), J Rose (Eng);-8 R Fowler (US), L Westwood;-7 D Willett (Eng), J Rahm (Spa), T Finau (US), J Spieth (US)|
|Selected others:-2 G McDowell (NI), D Johnson (US),-1 S Garcia (Spa), E Els (SA);+2 P Casey (Eng)|
Ireland’s Shane Lowry produced one of the great major championship rounds with a sensational eight-under-par 63 that sees him take a four-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of The Open.
Lowry, who called it “one of the most incredible days of my life,” carded eight birdies to finish on 16 under overall at Royal Portrush.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood is Lowry’s closest rival on 12 under after a 66.
JB Holmes is third on 10 under, one head of Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka.
But the day belonged to the 32-year-old Lowry who started the day tied at the top of the leaderboard alongside Holmes and was in sensational form from the first hole until the last, hitting 17 of the 18 greens in regulation as he set a new course record.
A partisan crowd at the Northern Irish course cheered his every birdie, the noise being so raucous that Fleetwood and playing partner Lee Westwood, who were in the group in front, had to wait to play their tee shots on the 18th.
And there were incredible scenes as Lowry walked down the last. Scenes usually reserved for the final day of the championship, as fans stood to applaud and cheer their man as he completed a memorable round of golf.
With adverse weather forecast for Sunday, tee times have been brought forward with the first tee time at 07:32 BST with the leaders beginning their final round at 13:47 BST.
‘Nowhere I’d rather be’
With home favourite Rory McIlroy – who shot a 61 on this course before two new holes were created for The Open – missing Friday’s halfway cut, the fans put their support behind Lowry, and he rose to the occasion.
He came agonisingly close to matching Branden Grace’s major-championship record of 62, set at The Open two years ago at Birkdale, but his effort for birdie on the 18th missed by an inch.
Nevertheless, his 16-under overall total of 197 is the lowest after 54 holes in Open history and he has, so far, shown little signs of faltering in his pursuit of a first major success.
Even as Fleetwood rose up the leaderboard Lowry kept his cool, picking up a birdie on the par-five fourth before taking the outright lead with another gain on the 12th.
Lowry, though, knows as well as anyone that there is still a long way to go. Three years ago he went into the final round of the US Open with a four-shot lead only to let that tournament slip from his grasp with a final-round 76.
“I have a tough 24 hours ahead of me, but there’s nowhere I would rather be,” he said.
“I have a four-shot lead in an Open in Ireland. Sunday is going to be incredible no matter what happens.”
More to follow.