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.

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."

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.

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."

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.

Patricia Maria Tig continued her fairy-tale run at the Bucharest Open by cruising into Sunday's final.

The Romanian qualifier does not have a world ranking and is making her first WTA main draw appearance since 2017 after struggling with multiple injuries as well as giving birth to her daughter in the past year.

And Tig's week to remember at her home tournament went on with an emphatic 6-3 6-1 triumph over sixth seed Laura Siegemund.

Tig has only lost one set all week and saved each of the eight break points she faced against Siegemund, winning in 87 minutes.

"It's very, very special to be in the final in Bucharest," said the emotional victor, who has beaten three seeded players to reach her first final in four years.

Tig, 24, will meet either Elena Rybakina or Martina Di Giuseppe in in the showpiece, the second semi-final having been heavily disrupted by rain.

The final of the Ladies Open Lausanne will see Alize Cornet take on Fiona Ferro in an all-French affair after both players won their last-four matches in straight sets.

Ferro saw off Bernarda Pera 6-1 6-4 in Saturday's opening match to reach a first WTA final, her American opponent failing to register a single break of serve.

Number three seed Cornet, who won the event last year when it was played in Gstaad, then got the better of Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 6-4 in two sets that by contrast produced 11 breaks.

"I think it's going to be hard and beautiful at the same time," Cornet said ahead of the clash with her compatriot. "[Ferro is] the new generation of the French players, and she's such a nice girl.

"She's a bit like my little sister on the tour, and I like her a lot. It's always tough, especially when you play a friend. But in both cases it's going to be beautiful, because either I win or my friend wins."

Shane Lowry inched ahead midway through round way three of The Open, but J.B. Holmes, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood were all battling away towards the top of the leaderboard.

Irishman Lowry, co-leading with Holmes overnight at Royal Portrush, birdied the ninth and went out in three under to reach 11 under for the tournament.

Westwood made a trio of birdies from the second to the fourth to reach 10 under, a score matched by Fleetwood who picked up shots at the first, fifth and seventh.

Holmes had a birdie opportunity at the ninth, but failed to take advantage and was also one back of Lowry.

The excellent conditions at Royal Portrush were making for a fascinating day of scoring, with Rickie Fowler's five-under-par 66 allowing him to set the clubhouse target at eight under.

Danny Willett carded a majestic 65, his lowest round in major golf, to get back home at seven under for the tournament.

Brooks Koepka, Dylan Frittelli and Justin Harding were all at seven under and still out on the course.

Thibaut Pinot powered his way up the Col du Tourmalet to win stage 14 of the Tour de France and Julian Alaphilippe increased his lead over Geraint Thomas on a memorable day for French cycling.

Pinot summoned one final burst to secure a magnificent victory in the first high-altitude finish of this year's race in the Pyrenees in his homeland on Saturday, banishing the memories of his stage 10 crosswind woes.

Alaphilippe passed another big test in the 117.5-kilometre ride from Tarbes to cross the line in second spot, stretching his advantage over defending champion Thomas by 36 seconds to 2:02.

Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Alaphilippe claimed a surprise individual time-trial win on Friday - the 100th anniversary of the yellow jersey - and made another statement to his rivals in the mountains.

Alaphilippe stuck to Thomas' wheel on the brutal final ascent of iconic Tourmalet - where he sealed the King of the Mountains title last year - and continued to press on after moving past the Team INEOS man in the final kilometre.

Thomas looked weary as he lost time on a stage witnessed by French President Emmanuel Macron, but Steven Kruijswijk dug in to finish third and remain in the same position of the general classification standings. 

Egan Bernal, Thomas' team-mate, was fifth and trails Pinot by three minutes, while Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte struggled.

Warren Barguil and Elie Gesbert attacked before being reeled in on the lung-busting final climb and it was Pinot who emerged from a group of a dozen to take the win.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 3:10.20
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:06
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
4. Emanuel Buchman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:08
5. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) +0:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 56:11:29
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +2:02
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +2:14

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 284
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 191
3. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 184

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 64
2. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 42
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37

WHAT'S NEXT?

The penultimate week will end with a 185km ride from Limoux to Prat d'Albis on Sunday. The climbers will come to the fore on a narrow, twisting final ascent of 11.8km.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has apologised for ranting at an umpire during Thursday's game with the Tampa Bay Rays, admitting Brennan Miller "handled the situation with a lot more class than I did".

Boone, who received a one-game suspension for his profanity-laced outburst, told the New York Post he had apologised to Miller.

"I called him (Friday) morning,’" Boone told the Post. "We had a good conversation. I told him he handled himself well and called a good game. I said someday we might laugh about this."

There was no laughing Thursday when Boone popped out of the dugout in the second inning of the first game of the doubleheader after Miller called out Brett Gardner on strikes.

"My guys are f*****g savages in that f*****g box, right? And you're having a piece of s*** start to this game. I feel bad for you, but f*****g get better," Boone was caught on camera as saying. "Tighten it up right now, okay."

Boone also made contact with Miller, before Miller threw him out of the game. But not after getting an earful that was picked up by microphones.

"Brennan, I thought, certainly handled the situation with a lot more class than I did," Boone told the Post. "But also, I thought, turned in a really good game."

The Yankees went on to win the game and sweep the Rays in the match-up of the top two teams in the AL East.

New York extended their lead over Tampa Bay to nine games with a win on Friday over the Rockies, but the Yankees did it without Boone, who was serving a one-game suspension.

"Yeah, I knew I made contact with my hat, and (Miller) said it right when it happened," Boone added. "That happened to me last year. I figured I’d be getting a call at some point from Joe Torre (MLB's chief baseball officer) and I did."

Josh Bard subbed for Boone as the Yankees won their fourth game in a row to improve to an AL-best 63-33.

Moving day was living up to its billing early in round three of The Open as Tommy Fleetwood joined the co-leaders at eight under and Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose each made early progress.

Clear skies at Royal Portrush was making for plenty of birdie opportunities and Fleetwood, starting just one shot back, made a gain on the first to move to eight under.

That was the same score as overnight leaders Shane Lowry and J.B. Holmes, who both parred the first hole.

Jordan Spieth was one adrift after back-to-back gains at the second and third, while Koepka and Rose birdied the second and were seven and six under respectively.

Cameron Smith also picked up a shot at the second, the par five proving a popular hole, and the Australian was at seven under, as was Lee Westwood.

There was plenty of movement from the earlier starters as well. Danny Willett was five under for the round through 13 and two shots back of the leaders, joining Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Henrik Stenson and Park Sang-hyun at six under.

Francesco Molinari hopes to soon be celebrating an Open Championship win for Tommy Fleetwood and insists the Englishman is destined to claim a major one day.

The 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year paired up with Fleetwood to form a formidable partnership at last year's Ryder Cup.

They became known collectively as 'Moliwood' and now the Italian half of that duo, who won the Claret Jug by two strokes at Carnoustie, wants to see his close friend's name next to his own on the famous silverware.

Fleetwood sat third at the midway point in Northern Ireland, just one stroke behind leading duo J.B. Holmes and Shane Lowry.

"It would make a good story for you guys to have the two of us, one next to the other on the Claret Jug," said Molinari after shooting a 72 at Royal Portrush on Saturday, having narrowly made the cut.

"He's a friend and I'll cheer him on and hopefully he can get it done. There is still a long way to go but he's there definitely with a chance. If it's not this week I think it's coming soon.

"The way he plays, he's a very talented player and he's still very young.

"Talking about expectations, he needs to wait for his time and it will come, for sure. The way he plays and the way he handles himself, it's just a matter of time. 

"I hope for him it will be this week, it will be great to have his name next to mine on the Claret Jug and we can have a big party together next week."

Fleetwood, 28, goes out in the penultimate group alongside compatriot Lee Westwood on a day of generally favourable conditions on the Dunluce Links.

Darren Sproles has returned to the Philadelphia Eagles after signing a one-year contract.

The 36-year-old running back considered retiring after an injury-riddled 2018 campaign in which he played only six games. 

But Sproles was prepared to give it another go if the "right team" called and that team turned out to be one he already knew well as he opted to return for a sixth season with the franchise.

"My heart is in Philly - that's where I want to end my career," Sproles said to the Eagles' website. "That team, the city is like a family.

"I really want to go out on top. That's what I really want to do. I can't wait to get back with the guys."

Sproles has established himself as one of the NFL's best-ever all-purpose backs and sits sixth on the league's career all-purpose yardage list thanks to his ability to rush, receive and return kickoffs and punts. 

He is unlikely to get a large amount of touches in 2019-20, but gives Philadelphia's explosive offense another option.

The Eagles gave Carson Wentz a four-year, $128million extension in June. The QB will have talented targets in Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Zach Ertz to work with, as well as running back Jordan Howard in the backfield. 

Philadelphia appear to have a better arsenal than they had on last season's 9-7 team that finished second in the NFC East. 

They lost Super Bowl hero Nick Foles to the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, so will have to bank on Wentz having a healthy year to go further than last season's loss to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round.

James Harden says he will not need to make any changes for new team-mate Russell Westbrook when the pair are reunited at the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets completed a blockbuster trade for Westbrook this week, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs on their roster.

Harden played with the new arrival at the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 and is already confident about how their rekindled partnership will work out in a loaded Western Conference.

So much so, he insists nothing will need to change in his game to make the Rockets successful after Westbrook's move.

"None. None. None," he told reporters at an Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event when asked what adjustments would be needed.

"We played with each other in the NBA and the Olympics and all that. When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. 

"You figure things out throughout the course of the season. That's just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.

"It's that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. With the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in, and things are going to go."

Chris Paul, whose relationship with Harden reportedly soured last season, two protected first-round draft selections and two pick swaps were sent to the Thunder to secure Westbrook's arrival.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," added Harden. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's excited. 

"He's been in Oklahoma City for 11 years so it's a new chapter for him. We welcome him with open arms. It's going to work.

"That's my boy right there, since I was like 10 or 11 years old. Obviously, we were team-mates for years. Now, we're at different stages of our careers. I hear a lot of negative things, 'You can't, he can't, they can't'. But we'll figure it out."

The Rockets lost out in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs last season, having gone 53-29 to claim the fourth seed in the West.

Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and the rest of the pack chasing J.B. Holmes and Shane Lowry will have been licking their lips at the conditions for round three of The Open.

Royal Portrush was treated to clear skies and sunshine with only the slightest breeze for the early starters looking to climb the leaderboard on moving day, with the forecast suggesting the weather would stay the same throughout the day.

Lowry and Holmes are at eight under par after the opening two rounds and were scheduled to tee off at 3.50pm local time on the Dunluce Links.

Fleetwood and Lee Westwood (both -7) were set for the penultimate group, with Cameron Smith and Justin Harding – who were two shots back – the third-from-last pairing.

Rose and Koepka, who were two and three back respectively, were set to head to the first for a 3.20pm tee-off time.

Rory McIlroy may not have made the weekend, but another local hero Graeme McDowell drew plenty of local support and showed how it could be done by shooting a three-under-par 68.

Lucas Glover and Park Sang-hyun were three under through four and five holes of their respective third rounds, while Tom Lewis was at the same score having played 14.

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