Open stage set for Shane

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Shane Lowry is embracing his position at the Open Championship and is relishing the possibility of Claret Jug glory.

After the travails of Rory McIlroy, the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush was crying out for another Irishman to shine and Shane Lowry stepped into the breach on Saturday.

Tied for the lead on eight-under heading into moving day, the County Offaly-man blew the field apart with a brilliant course record 63, firing eight birdies to move to 16-under.

That tally sees Lowry (8/15 favourite – Tournament Outright) sit four shots clear of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (18/5), with JB Holmes (28/1) third after only picking up two shots on Saturday.

Justin Rose (20/1) and Brooks Koepka (11/1) are tied for fourth on nine-under but have their work cut out to catch the man who has the hopes of Ireland on his shoulders.

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The 32-year-old has been in this situation before, sitting four strokes clear at one stage of the final day of 2016 US Open, only to slip up and allow Dustin Johnson in to take the honours at Oakmont.

Lowry admitted after Saturday’s round that he learned from the experience and rather than keeping his cool, admitted that picking up the Claret Jug on Sunday will be at the forefront of his mind before he tees off.

“It’s only natural, isn’t it?” said Lowry. “We’re human. We’re not robots. We can’t not think about things.

“And when you try not to think about something you end up thinking about it more, so you might as well talk about it.

“I’m not going to be sitting there on Sunday morning in the house trying not to think about the day ahead. I’ll be talking about it.”

The 2015 Bridgestone champion goes off at 1:47 alongside another man eyeing his maiden major title, Fleetwood (Two-Ball Betting – Fleetwood 4/6, Tie 15/2, Lowry 7/4).

Will it be Shane’s day in County Antrim?

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