The Open 2019: Here’s why Shane Lowry’s four-shot Open lead is far from a lock

July 20, 2019

With 18 holes to play in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush, Shane Lowry has a four-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round after an eight-under 63 performance during Saturday’s third round. Now, after 54 holes, Lowry is at the top of the leaderboard at 16-under. But it’s not a spot he’s unfamiliar with, and it’s not a scenario that elicits fond memories for the 32-year-old Irishman.

Before the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Lowry had only two professional wins on his resume. His best finish in a major came at the 2014 Open Championship when he tied for ninth. But after shooting a five-under 65 during the third round, Lowry had a four-stroke lead at seven-under heading into the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open. At the time, it was his best round ever in a major championship. He was just 18 holes away from becoming a major champion.

But Sunday at Oakmont would prove to be disastrous for Lowry. He would shoot a six-over 76 in the final round, including a string of three-straight bogeys on the 14th, 15th, and 16th holes that would extinguish his chances of winning.

Instead of Lowry, it was Dustin Johnson who earned his first major title that day. Lowry would have no choice but to settle for second place at one-under for the tournament, three shots behind DJ.

After his second round on Friday, Lowry elaborated on the change in his mentality of leading a major in 2019 compared to when he last lead one in 2016.

“I just feel like I’m in a great place,” Lowry said. “I don’t think the consequences are as bad, and I feel like that’s why I’m so good mentally at the minute. I’m just trying to take one day at a time. Just try and shoot the best scores that I can.”

“Look, if I give myself a chance to do something very special here on Sunday, no matter what happens it will be a great week,” Lowry continued. “But if I don’t, it won’t be the end of the world. That’s where I’m at mentally. I’ll still be getting on an airplane Monday to go to Memphis, regardless of what happens Sunday.”

Since his collapse at the 2016 U.S. Open, Lowry’s best major finish came this past May at the PGA Championship when he tied for eighth. His only victory came on the European Tour at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this past January.

But Lowry hasn’t had a better chance at finally capturing the elusive first major title until now. On Sunday, Lowry can vanquish all of his demons by hoisting the Claret Jug. He tees off at 8:47 a.m. ET on Sunday morning with Tommy Fleetwood.

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