Early starters Stanley and Redman get off to Open third round flier
Fox and Hwang also make early progress with back-to-back birdies
Americans Kyle Stanley and Doc Redman, New Zealander Ryan Fox and South Korean Innchoon Hwang showed there were scoring opportunities on the third day of The Open at Royal Portrush.
With leaders Shane Lowry, from Ireland, and JB Holmes, from the United States, not due out until 3.50pm there was plenty of time for the early starters to make an impression on the leaderboard.
Stanley got off to a flier with birdies in his first two holes, Redman went back-to-back from the second with Fox, two in five, and Hwang had picking up shots at the fourth and fifth.
They were the only four players among the opening 14 groups to get to two under par for their rounds.
It moved Stanley and Redman to two under, just two shots off the group of players in joint-12th place – the first of whom Matt Kuchar was not teeing off until 2.30pm.
Royal Portrush head professional Gary McNeill was given the honour of accompanying first man out Paul Waring.
With an odd number – 73 players made the cut – Waring was given a marker to play alongside as he teed off at 9.35am and that prize was handed to O’Neill, who missed out in qualifying for the tournament outright last month.
The Royal Portrush club shop closed so staff could watch McNeill tee off with a somewhat understandably nervous low, left shot off the first.
Defending champion Franceso Molinari began the day at one over, having made the cut on the mark, but after seven successive pars he made a mess of the eighth after twice finding trouble down the left to drop a shot.
Graeme McDowell, Portrush-born and the only remaining Northern Irishman left in the field, went out in a level-par 36 after three-putting the par-three sixth cancelled out his birdie at the second and he remained one over.
Also watching proceedings intently were Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood, in the penultimate group out, as they looked to strengthen their chances of becoming the first Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.