Shane Lowry tees of on Sunday with a four-shot lead at the Open Championship and a potential fairytale outcome is on the cards for the home fans.
Sunday’s weather forecast is something that could well have a big impact on how the final day unfolds with heavy rain forecast to fall on Portrush and is due to get worse as the afternoon progresses. Higher winds with gusts of up to 30mph as also set to batter the course.
Organisers have decided to bring the tee times forward and the final group of Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood will now tee off at 1.47pm.
Paddy Power Ambassador Shane Lowry had the round of his life on Saturday to compile a bogey free 63 to set a new course record and with his flawless golf seeing him open up a four shot lead he is now certainly the man to beat.
The player who sit’s four shots behind Shane in second and who has the job of trying to focus on his own game, while ‘Lowry mania’ goes on all around him on Sunday, is Tommy Fleetwood.
The Englishman who was also bogey free on Saturday is striking the ball incredibly well this week and if Lowry does falter he looks ideally positioned to take advantage.
Two further shots back on -10 is JB Holmes, while Brooks Koepka and Justin rose lurk ominously on -9. Finally on -8, and probably as far back as we can realistically look for a winner, we have the pair of Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood.
With Shane four shots clear it is fairly obvious to say that he has the tournament in his own hands. With the weather forecast as it is a level par round of 71 would almost certainly be good enough for him to take home the Claret Jug.
With Lowry being an excellent poor weather player who will feel as much at home in Sunday’s conditions as anyone – I cannot bring myself to oppose him.
However, things could turn in to a real grind for him and the rest of the later starters and this leads me to my main bet of the day. Lowry could quite easily shoot 74 or worse and still win. If he does struggle today, it would still require a 68 or better from Fleetwood to get to -15, something, we are unlikely to see if the predicted winds materialise.
To me 8/13 for -14 or worse being the winning total looks the way to go.
Looking now at today’s two ball pairings and there are a couple that catch my eye.
Although he scuppered our Saturday treble, I am happy to take Jordan Spieth on again with Henrik Stenson when the pair tee off at 12.57pm.
Similarly to Friday, Spieth again only hit 35% of his fairways on Saturday and was very up and down in his round of 69. The Swede’s far superior ball striking at the moment will be too good for Spieth in Sunday’s anticipated conditions.
Finally going off at 1.27pm, we have Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose and I am keen to side with Fowler here.
Rickie has improved steadily every day and after a sluggish opening few holes on Saturday he was really impressive. Like Lowry, Fowler is comfortable in tough, windy conditions.
I can see him getting the better of Rose today.
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