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The Open day four: Leader Lowry bids to secure first major

The Irishman holds a four-shot lead.

Shane Lowry, pictured, tops the standings heading into the final day at The Open (Richard Sellers/PA)
Shane Lowry, pictured, tops the standings heading into the final day at The Open (Richard Sellers/PA)

Shane Lowry will be buoyed on by a fervent home crowd as the County Offaly man chases a maiden major title victory at The Open on Sunday.

The 32-year-old boasts a four-shot lead at Royal Portrush heading into the final round.

Here, PA looks ahead to a finely-balanced last day in Northern Ireland.

Ones to watch

John Rahm: tee time 1:07pm
The Spaniard has won the Irish Open twice in the last three, with a final-round 62 doing the job this year in Lahinch. So if anyone can climb the board at the last it is the likeable 24-year-old, who has admitted he enjoys links golf and his time in Ireland.

Lee Westwood: 1:17pm
The 46-year-old has had his girlfriend Helen Storey caddying for him this week, for the first time at a major tournament. That has helped keep the Worksop native calm, though he slipped slightly on Saturday. While he is eight shots shy of leader Lowry, bad weather could prove a real leveller.

Brooks Koepka: 1:37pm
Koepka has admitted he is at his best when he plays with a chip on his shoulder. His putting has been so poor this week that he has not had to look far for that grudge. Should the muscular Florida native sort out his green game though, he could easily apply the choke hold on Lowry and company.

Tommy Fleetwood/Lowry: 1:47pm
The final pair will hope they can stave off the worst of the weather and cling onto their advantage from the third round. Fleetwood will start on 12 under, with Lowry 16 under after a magnificent 63 on Saturday. Irishman Lowry would send the Portrush crowds into raptures should he prevail, while England’s Fleetwood would prove a popular victor too.

Tweet of the day

Irishman Padraig Harrington praises England’s Lee Westwood for sticking to the spirit of the sport rather than chasing personal gain. Westwood found himself caught in heavy rough on the 10th and wound up dropping a shot. The 46-year-old still sits on eight under par though, in a tie for sixth place.

Stat of the day

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Brooks Koepka, pictured, might have struggled with his putting at Royal Portrush but has had precious few problems hitting par (Niall Carson/PA)

Brooks Koepka had stretched 26 holes without a bogey until he slipped up at the 13th on Saturday. The aggressive American had birdied the 12th as he eyed a move into title contention. But unlike Friday, when he picked up shots at both the 12th and 13th, here he ceded ground.

Top shot

Dylan Frittelli endured a mixed one-under round, for an overall score of sixth. The 29-year-old South African’s third-round highlight however was undoubtedly this eagle effort at the seventh.

Quote of the day

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Kyle Stanley, pictured, was in no mood to downplay his spat with Bob MacIntyre (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Listen, he’s a young player, I’ve been out here a while, so I don’t feel the need to be schooled on the rules of golf.”

Kyle Stanley bites back at Bob MacIntyre, intensifying their row after the American’s ball hit the mother of the Scot’s caddie on Friday.

On the up

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Danny Willett enjoyed a strong Saturday (Niall Carson/PA)

Danny Willett matched the second-best score of the week with a six-under 65 to jump into contention. The third round of a major is not called moving day for nothing, and England’s Willett boasted the biggest upswing of a hectic Saturday. The 2016 Masters champion is perhaps too deep to add another major title on Sunday, but will doubtless hope the bad weather plays straight into his hands.

Clarke reflects

Home favourite Darren Clarke took a seven at the 18th on Friday to miss the cut, and walked off the last disconsolate and without speaking to the media. A day later, and having had time to reflect, Clarke took the chance to thank his compatriot fans for their support. Having lobbied so hard and so long for The Open to come back to Northern Ireland, missing the cut must have hit the 2011 champion hard. But as time ticks on, he will surely come to appreciate his time in history.

PA

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