Portrush - Ireland's Shane Lowry withstood howling gales and a bogey at the
first to stretch his lead of the Open Championship to six shots through 10
holes and move closer to his first major victory on Sunday.
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Roared on by huge crowds despite the inclement weather at Royal
Portrush, Lowry had a nervy start but crucially holed a tricky putt to
avoid dropping two shots at the opening hole.
The 32-year-old then streaked further clear with three birdies in four holes between four and eight to move to 18-under.
But two bogeys at eight and nine slowed Lowry's charge towards the
Claret Jug and gave his closest challenger Tommy Fleetwood an outside
chance with rain hammering down on Northern Ireland's north Atlantic
Fleetwood is two-over for his round after missing a number of key putts to put the pressure on his playing partner.
However, it looks set to be a shootout between those two for a first
ever major with the terrible conditions hampering the chasing pack's
chance to post a challenging score.
Lee Westwood is on course for his 10th top-three finish in a major
without ever winning one as the Englishman stands at eight-under after
World number one Brooks Koepka was hoping for the wind to blow Lowry
off course, but it was the four-time major champion whose chances were
washed away early on.
Four consecutive bogeys on one, two, three and four realistically ended his challenge for a first Open Championship.
The American recovered with eagle at the fifth to turn at seven-under alongside Rickie Fowler and Danny Willett.
Scotland's Bob MacIntyre and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton set the clubhouse lead also at five-under.