Shane Lowry described Saturday's stunning round at an electric Royal Portrush as his "most incredible day" on a golf course as the Irishman took control of the Open Championship.

Lowry's blemish-free 63 means he almost has one hand on the Claret Jug, boasting a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood at the summit.

The crowd in Northern Ireland lent their significant backing to the 32-year-old as he pulled clear of a stacked field of contenders to emerge as the clear favourite for the title.

He closed his round with three birdies from the last four holes and Portrush erupted in joy as he left playing partner and overnight co-leader J.B. Holmes six strokes adrift.

"Honestly, that's the most incredible day I've ever had on the golf course. I honestly can't explain what it was like," said a beaming Lowry.

"I said to Bo [caddie Brian Martin] walking off the 17th tee, 'We might never have a day like this on the golf course again. So let's enjoy this next half hour'.

"And that's what I did. The crowd was incredible. I just can't believe what it was like.

"I can imagine it was quite difficult for J.B. to play with that. But I found it OK, anyway."

Lowry has never won a major but he does have experience of holding a four-shot lead going into the last round of one.

He did so at Oakmont in 2016 and shot a 76 on the final day as victory slipped from his grasp, but he claims to have learned from that.

"I said to Bo when I finished, look at the leaderboard, four ahead. I said to Bo, 'At least I won't have to answer any questions about Oakmont, I'm four ahead going into the final round of a major'," Lowry joked.

"Obviously I learned a lot that day. I learned a lot about myself at Oakmont. I'm going to learn a lot about myself tomorrow [Sunday].

"I think I learned a few things that day about playing in the final round of a major with a lead, that you need to just hang in until the very last minute.

"You never know what can happen."

There was little time to stop and take stock on a glorious day at Royal Portrush as The Open Championship cranked up a notch in round three.

Bright skies and low winds were the order of the day in Northern Ireland, a stark contrast to the heavy rain that is forecast to provide a huge challenge for the leaders on Sunday.

On a moving day when Shane Lowry took Portrush apart to establish a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood, our Omnisport team were out and about on the ground once again.

Here, we bring you stories you may have missed from Portrush.


COVERING THE OPEN IS A GIANT TASK

An Open Championship is an absolute privilege to cover for a journalist, but it's also hard work!

The days start early, finish late and are filled with any number of tasks from writing stories, interviewing, shooting video, talking on the radio and television...

If you're struggling to feel any sympathy for the lot of the many journalists at Royal Portrush this week, the revelation that one of Omnisport's reporters found time for a spot of sightseeing will certainly not change your mind.

Early on Saturday, said reporter headed for the Giant's Causeway to take in the stunning views around this world-famous tourist attraction that sits just a few miles from the golf course.

The tens of thousands of interlocking basalt columns form a spectacle so grand and beautiful that it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

BLACK CAPS CWC LOSS STILL RANKLES WITH FOX FAN

When roving the course, you get the opportunity to talk to people from all walks of life.

One of the Omnisport team was involved in a three-way chat with an Indian man and New Zealand woman, who were there mainly supporting Shubhankar Sharma and Ryan Fox.

The conversation briefly turned to cricket, where the Black Caps supporter was adamant the Kiwis should not have lost the World Cup, which incredibly was less than a week ago.

"Our own countryman stole it!" she said, in reference to New Zealand-born Ben Stokes dramatically and accidentally deflecting the ball for four additional runs at a crucial juncture.

Sport hurts, kids...

PORTRUSH LOCAL SHOWS THE WAY

Often after the cut at a major championship, the field is left with an odd number of players, meaning one poor soul is scheduled to tee off alone.

But usually the said player - on this occasion Paul Waring - will play with a marker, and Royal Portrush head professional Gary McNeill had that honour on Saturday.

And he enjoyed a moment to savour at the 17th hole when he drained a monster putt in front of an appreciative local crowd.

SHANE LOVES LOVE ISLAND...

One of the more popular TV shows in the United Kingdom right now is Love Island, a show where young, single males and females spend time in a villa looking for love... and it's not to everyone's taste.

But for the Open Championship leader it's the ideal way to unwind after a round on the course.

"I'd be lying if I said Love Island wasn't on [in the house]," Lowry said, to laughter among the press pack. "I do the same things as any other person [to relax], I lay back and watch on TV. "

Each to their own, Shane...

Shane Lowry produced the finish of dreams in round three of the Open Championship to take a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood heading into Sunday.

The Irishman brilliantly made the most of the favourable scoring conditions at Royal Portrush on Saturday to sign for an 8-under 63, just one stroke off levelling the lowest score in Open history, leaving him at 16 under for the tournament.

It would take a huge turnaround for Lowry not to make his major breakthrough on the Dunluce Links. After Fleetwood, Lowry's nearest challengers are J.B. Holmes (-10), Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose (both -9).

But the threat of heavy rain looms large in Portrush, so there may yet be one final twist in this Open tale in Northern Ireland.

Below we profile the leading contenders and the best of the rest heading in round four.


THE MAIN CONTENDERS


SHANE LOWRY:

Age: 32

Best major finish: T2 at 2016 U.S. Open

Current ranking/highest ranking: 33/17

European/PGA Tour wins: 4

Reasons he'll win: There has been a vociferous backing for Irishman Lowry this week at Portrush and it is an energy he has fed off to the greatest effect. He is also a dab hand on the links and has looked utterly unflappable this week.

Reasons he won't win: There is a target on Lowry's back and the last time he was in a scenario like this at the 2016 U.S. Open he did not exactly enjoy the pressure. Leading by four heading into the final round at Oakmont, he limped to a six-over-par 76 and finished three off winner Dustin Johnson.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD:

Age: 28

Best major finish: 2nd at 2018 U.S. Open

Current ranking/highest ranking: 20/9

European/PGA Tour wins: 4

Reasons he'll win: Growing up in Southport, close to Royal Birkdale, Fleetwood just loves these type of golf courses and the adverse weather forecast for Sunday is unlikely to cause him too much concern. Seeing his good pal Francesco Molinari win this same tournament a year ago will also act as motivation to reel in Lowry.

Reasons he won't win: The gap to Lowry is now a big one and he will need his last-day rival to lose the tournament as much as he will need to win it. All Fleetwood can do is make sure he is clinical when the birdie chances present themselves.


BEST OF THE REST:

J.B. Holmes

Reasons he'll win: If either of the two men above him flounder, Holmes has shown throughout the weekend he can really play around Portrush. Three years ago at Troon he was the best of the rest as Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson played out one of the greatest final days in major history.

Reasons he won't win: On a day where scoring was favourable, Holmes could only muster a two-under 69. If the bad weather arrives on Sunday, which it is fully expected to, chances to go low will be scarce.


Brooks Koepka:

Reasons he'll win: Because that is what Brooks Koepka likes to do in majors. He has four of them since 2017. The world number one's record this year reads 2-1-2 and if he can get his putter firing hot then who knows?

Reasons he won't win: Koepka has been giving himself chances to shoot a really low score all week but has been blowing cold with the flatstick. It could ultimately prove his downfall here.


Justin Rose:

Reasons he'll win: You don't become a major champion and a world number one for nothing. It's undoubtedly a tall order but having come so close at Carnoustie a year ago, Rose will be focused on producing the round of his dreams.

Reasons he won't win: Just the sheer volume of variables he will need. Lowry and Fleetwood will have to drop back, the weather will have to not be quite as bad as expected, and even if those things happen he will have to outplay Koepka.

Shane Lowry is optimistic he can complete the job after securing a four-shot lead to take into the final round of The Open Championship.

The Irishman's 63 on Saturday put him well clear of Tommy Fleetwood, who was in turn two shots in front of third-placed J.B. Holmes.

Lowry would be a hugely popular winner at Royal Portrush, but he was reminded after his third round of a similar scenario three years ago at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, when he also led by four after 54 holes.

On that occasion, a closing 76 saw him finish in a tie for second.

This time Lowry is determined to last the distance and carry off the Claret Jug.

He said: "I hope I’m going to be able to deal with it better. It’s going to be difficult. I know it's going to be hard.

"But I think I'm ready for it. Hopefully I'm ready for it."

Speaking on Sky Sports, Lowry said: "My mind's a bit fuzzy. I just really enjoyed today. Obviously, I played great golf. The crowd were incredible. And I just felt so comfortable out there.

"I'm hoping I feel that comfortable out there tomorrow. I know it's going to be a tough 24 hours ahead of me, but you know what, there's nowhere I'd rather be – a four-shot lead in an Open Championship in Ireland.

"Tomorrow's going to be incredible, regardless of what happens."

Lowry reached 16 under par for the tournament, and it would be a first major for the 32-year-old if he closes out the win.

"I felt so in control of my game. There are very few times in golf when you get into that position and it's just great when it happens," he added.

"Every time I hit the ball I just wanted to hole it because of the roar – I just wanted to hear that roar again.

"I said to Bo [caddy Brian Martin] walking off the 17th tee, the next half an hour we might never experience anything like it again so let's enjoy it and that's what I did.

"It all happened nicely today. It was one of the most incredible days of my life."

Australia captain Michael Hooper acknowledged the Wallabies have "a lot to look at" after their heavy defeat to South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

Inspired by debutant Herschel Jantjies in Johannesburg on Saturday, South Africa cruised to a 35-17 win at Ellis Park.

South Africa capitalised on Taniela Tupou's's yellow card to run away with the game in the second half, though it was a much closer encounter prior to the interval.

Indeed, had Dane Haylett-Petty - who scored Australia's first try - taken a great chance just after the half hour, the Wallabies would likely have lead at the break.

And though Hooper was happy with Australia's attacking performance in the first half, he conceded they must learn their lessons from the defeat, with New Zealand and Argentina still to come before the World Cup in Japan.

"South Africa controlled the second half so well," Hooper said.

"We had a few opportunities in the first half which would have created a different picture but pat on the back to the South African team who controlled the ball and took advantage of the yellow card and took the match away.

"Our attack in the first half was world-class. We showed a lot of different pictures but the reality is those things didn't happen and we were left with them doubling our points. There's a lot to look at."

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus, however, was not pleased with how his side performed despite the convincing victory.

"A few guys certainly put their hands up for World Cup selection, but from a team performance perspective, this isn't how we want to play," he said.

Shane Lowry shot a stunning 63 to take a four-shot lead into the final round of The Open Championship.

The Irishman started Saturday as co-leader with J.B. Holmes but ended the day six shots clear of the American, with Tommy Fleetwood now his nearest rival.

Having shot back-to-back 67s, Lowry's blemish-free third-round tally represented the best score of the week so far at Royal Portrush as he moved to 16 under overall.

But he faces a stiff challenge on Sunday, not only from fellow maiden major hopeful Fleetwood, but also the weather, with tee times having been moved forward amid a forecast of potential storms.

And it is not only the conditions that will test Lowry, who led by four going into the last round of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont before collapsing and finishing three back of Dustin Johnson, as four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is one shot behind Holmes on nine under, along with Justin Rose.

American Holmes had got to 11 under by the 12th but his round stalled before a birdie at the last, while Lee Westwood endured a back-nine decline to fall eight shots back.

The likes of Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Danny Willett on seven under almost certainly have too much work to do.

On a warm and relatively calm day in Northern Ireland, it was Lowry who capitalised most to turn in a scorecard that boasted eight birdies.

Met with raucous applause onto every tee, he left most greens with a similar din ringing in his ears as his putter ran hot in a superb all-round display.

Lowry birdied 15, 16 and 17 and very nearly nailed a 25-foot putt for another gain at 18, which would have equalled the best score in Open history, but settled for a par to seal the greatest round of his life.

He will hope Sunday brings an even greater reward.

Atletico Madrid won 3-0 at Numancia in their first game since Antoine Griezmann's controversial move to Barcelona, but the striker's replacement Joao Felix was substituted due to injury.

Diego Simeone started with five debutants, including the teenage forward, for Saturday's trip to Estadio Municipal de Burgo de Osma.

But, after taking an early blow on his right hip, the €126million signing limped off the pitch in the 26th minute and went straight down the tunnel.

New signings Kieran Trippier, Mario Hermoso, Renan Lodi and Marcos Llorente also started while Joao Felix's replacement Angel Correa hit the post shortly before half-time.

Having made wholesale changes at the break, including sending on another new defender, Felipe, Atletico took the lead in the 69th minute.

Substitute Rodrigo Riquelme delivered a deep cross from the right wing that Vitolo tried to meet with a diving header, the ball appearing to bounce in off his left arm.

Ivan Saponjic, who like the club's record signing Joao Felix has joined from Benfica ahead of the 2019-20 season, then made it 2-0 to the visitors.

Neat build-up play led to Toni Moya freeing Manuel Sanchez on the left wing, with his centre coolly converted by Serbian striker Saponjic for his first Atletico goal.

Atletico had finally found their rhythm and they scored a third goal with six minutes to go, Felipe celebrating another debut goal for the Rojiblancos with impressive acrobatics.

Anthony Joshua is "one million per cent" sure on taking up a rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

Ruiz stunned the world of boxing when he handed Joshua the first defeat of his professional career at Madison Square Garden on June 1, dropping him four times to claim the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts.

The bout was Joshua's United States debut, yet Hearn subsequently implied they would take a rematch back to the United Kingdom.

However, Ruiz told TMZ he would not be willing to let Joshua's camp call the shots, insisting he would not want a rematch to take place on the Briton's home turf.

Rumours then emerged on Friday suggesting the former champion was considering pulling out of discussions, but Hearn has rubbished those claims.

"Joshua is one million per cent taking this rematch. Fact," Hearn told iFL TV on Saturday.

"I spoke to Joshua last night. He is one million per cent taking this rematch. I haven't even been asked to look at other options.

"He doesn't want to take an interim bout. Maybe we should, but he doesn't want to take a small fight, he wants the big fight and that's Joshua-Ruiz two."

Cardiff's Principality Stadium has been mooted as a potential venue, but Hearn insisted nothing has yet been decided in terms of where a rematch would be held, though the dates have been narrowed down.

"We've provided the dates to Team Ruiz, now we've got to provide the venue," Hearn added.

"The dates are November 29 or December 14, those are the dates we're working on. Of the venues that have come on in the last week, one is very serious and we're very deep in conversation.

"I think the front runner is still Cardiff, December 14. Madison Square Garden is in the running too."

African champion Akani Simbine notched his first Diamond League win of the season, holding off Anguilla-born Briton Zharnel Hughes at the London Diamond League meeting on Saturday.

Simbine clocked a season’s best 9.95 seconds to edge out Hughes, who at 9.97, was also going the fastest he has all year.

Jamaican champion and 2009 World Champion, Yohan Blake went down to the line with former training partner Hughes, clocking the same time. Just behind those two were Japan’s Yuki Koiek in 9.98 and Canada’s Andre De Grasse, 9.99.

Koiek was running as fast as he has ever gone, while DeGrasse, who has been struggling to return to his best form after a couple of injury-set seasons, had gone quicker than he has all season.

A below-par Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 friendly draw by Nurnberg at the Max-Morlock-Stadion on Saturday.

There was no place in the squad for Neymar, who continues to be linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions, with the club stating he was "training".

Thomas Tuchel's side failed to hit the heights of their 6-1 win against Dynamo Dresden on Tuesday and looked particularly frail at the back, although Kylian Mbappe did look typically threatening in attack.

Pablo Sarabia scored his first goal for the club following his move from Sevilla earlier this month to put them ahead but Enrico Valentini equalised from the spot 19 minutes from time.

Nurnberg were denied an opener inside the first minute after Alphonse Areola raced off his line to block Mikael Ishak's effort.

The visitors grew into the game and twice came close shortly before the midway point of the first half. First, Mbappe's low shot was diverted onto the post by goalkeeper Christian Mathenia and then Jese dragged wide after a pull-back from the marauding Thomas Meunier.

Mbappe went close again 10 minutes before the interval, latching onto Marco Verratti's chipped free-kick and clipping the outside of Mathenia's right-hand upright.

The France international was the creator for Sarabia's opener two minutes before half-time, playing the ball through Lukas Muhl's legs and picking out the Spaniard, who sent a header past Mathenia.

The hosts should have drawn level a minute after the restart but half-time substitute Federico Palacios fired well over after powering through a sloppy PSG backline.

Following a raft of substitutions for both sides, Nurnberg equalised in the 71st minute when Valentini stroked home from the spot after new signing Abdou Diallo had handled in the area.

Kyle Stanley was unapologetic after Robert MacIntrye complained he had failed to shout fore quickly enough before a stray shot hit his caddie's mother.

Stanley was castigated by his playing partner following the second round at The Open, after a poor tee shot on the 17th at Royal Portrush hit a member of the crowd.

The spectator, it turned out, was the mother of MacIntyre's caddie, and the Scot revealed there were "harsh words" between the two men.

But Stanley - who carded 73 in the third round on Saturday - has hit back at MacIntyre's complaints, insisting enough people around the tee warned the crowd of the impending danger.

"Several people on the tee box yelled fore," Stanley said.

"My two playing partners, my caddie, a couple of the volunteers or the marshals, even had them signalling it was going right. I mean, everyone to the right of that ball, they knew it was coming.

"So to me it's a non-issue. I'm not really sure why he decided to make such an issue about it.

"I know it hit his caddie's mum's hands off the bounce and that's unfortunate. But as far as I'm concerned, a number of people yelled fore.

"I thought that was enough. My intention was to never do anything negative or put anybody in the gallery in harm's way."

Stanley did, however, acknowledge he could have possibly shouted out a warning first, though believes the issue has been overblown because of who the shot hit.

"He made the argument that since I hit the ball that it maybe should have come out of my mouth first. I guess I can see that," the American said.

"If it didn't [hit the caddie's mother], I don't think we’d be talking about it right now.

"If his issue was with me not being the first person to say fore, does he have a point? Does he not have a point? That’s up to him."

Sunday's tee times for the final round of The Open Championship have been brought forward due to concerns over adverse weather conditions.

The clear skies and light winds that greeted fans at Royal Portrush on Saturday are forecast to be replaced by heavy rains throughout most of the final day.

To avoid the threat of delays, tee times are scheduled to begin earlier in the morning with the opening group of the day now due to go off at 7.32am local time.

The leaders involved in the final round of the day will now begin at 1.47pm.

Danny Willett carded a 65 to surge into Open Championship contention and then warned Royal Portrush will "grow some teeth again" for Sunday's final round.

The 2016 Masters champion has worked wonders to put himself in the mix after an opening-round 74 and on Saturday he carded his best score at a major to go seven under for the tournament.

That put him within striking distance of a leading pack that includes Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood and J.B. Holmes - none of whom have won a major.

But while there were favourable conditions for the third round, the closing 18 holes are set be played amid wind and rain in Northern Ireland.

Asked how he will deal with the inclement weather, the Englishman replied: "No idea!

"It could be windy and rainy, it could be just windy, it could be just rainy. We don't know until we get up in the afternoon.

"The weather looks pretty poor from about 9am onwards. Then this place will grow some teeth again.

"You've seen it fluctuate through different winds. Winds being stronger, guys find certain holes really difficult, a little bit of rain comes in. 

"If it is what it is forecast [on Sunday], 10 to 15-mile-an-hour winds and raining, this place will be a completely different kettle of fish."

 

Herschel Jantjies starred with two tries on his South Africa debut as the Springboks overcame Australia 35-17 in the Rugby Championship opener in Johannesburg.

South Africa's stand-in captain Eben Etzebeth lauded the 23-year-old in the build-up to Saturday's encounter, and the scrum-half put in an inspired display at Ellis Park.

Having opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Jantjies played a crucial role in South Africa's second try from Lood De Jager before capping his stirring display with another five-pointer just after the hour.

Dane Haylett-Petty got on the board for Australia, although he missed a golden chance to put the Wallabies in front heading into the break.

And the Springboks made their good fortune count - Taniela Tupou's yellow card proving costly for Australia as S'busiso Nkosi and Jantjies ran in while the Wallabies were down to 14 - with Cobus Reinach's late try ensuring a bonus point.

With the tournament shortened to three rounds due to the upcoming World Cup, Australia's chances of success already look slim, and the pressure seems to be mounting on coach Michael Cheika.

Australia looked in good shape when they forced an early line-out deep in South Africa's half, but found themselves behind a minute later when Jantjies rounded off a wonderful counter following fine wing play from Nkosi.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto saw a try disallowed as Australia rallied, with the Wallabies handed a boost when Andre Esterhuizen was sent to the sin bin after 20 minutes.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was South Africa who struck next - De Jager forcing the ball down after Jantjies had been hauled down a metre out.

Haylett-Petty exploited a gap in South Africa's line to reduce the deficit to four points before the half-hour mark, but the Australia winger was later left red-faced when he fumbled what looked to be a simple pick-up on the Springboks line.

Australia failed to pick up where they left off following the break and were fortunate when Elton Jantjies - whose kicking had been on point in the first half - failed to convert a penalty.

Tupou's dangerous lunge during a ruck reduced Australia to 14 men soon after, and South Africa wasted little time in capitalising when Nkosi dived over in the corner before Jantjies helped himself to a second try.

Jantjies was taken off to a standing ovation soon after, and though Bernard Foley's try and subsequent conversion threatened to make things interesting, Reinach added further gloss to a convincing triumph after the hooter had blown.

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