Ireland’s Shane Lowry hailed the best day of his career after taking command of the 148th Open at Royal Portrush.
Roared on by a capacity crowd, Lowry carded a stunning third round of 63 to finish 16 under par, four shots ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
“It’s the most incredible day I’ve had on the golf course,” said Lowry, whose 54-hole total of 197 eclipsed the previous Open record of 198 set by Tom Lehman at Royal Lytham in 1996.
“Honestly, walking from the green to the next tee the people are literally a yard away from you, roaring in your face as loud as they can. If you have to get up and hit a drive down a tight fairway, it’s fairly difficult.
“I thought I dealt with it very well today and hopefully I do the same tomorrow.
“Every time I got over a putt I wanted to hole it and hear that roar again. I said to Bo (Martin, his caddie) walking off 17, ‘We might never experience anything like the next half-hour again, so let’s make the most of it’.
“I just felt so comfortable out there and hope I do tomorrow. 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.”
Lowry also held a four-shot lead after 54 holes of the US Open in 2016, only to struggle to a closing 76 and finish three behind Dustin Johnson.
“I hope I’m going to be able to deal with it better,” he added. “I know it’s going to be difficult and hard but hopefully I am ready for it.
“I learned a lot about myself at Oakmont. I’m going to learn a lot about myself tomorrow. Tomorrow is a huge day in my career but it probably doesn’t mean as much to me as it did then, which is going to make it a little bit easier.
“I feel like I’m a different person. I don’t think I’m a much different golfer, but I feel like I’m a different person now. I think that’s what will help me tomorrow.
“At the time of Oakmont my golf just meant a lot more to me back then than it does now. I’m not saying that it doesn’t mean everything, it’s my career. But I’ve got certain things in my life that make it different. I’ve got family now.”
That family is wife Wendy and two-year-old daughter Iris and Lowry added: “No matter what I shoot tomorrow my family will be waiting for me.
“At Abu Dhabi at the start of this year, four ahead going into the final round, I said to my wife just have Iris there waiting for me when I finish, because no matter what happens I’m going to be either standing there with the trophy or it’s going to be a disappointing day.
“And it’s going to be the same thing tomorrow.”
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