Sunday, July 21, 2019

British Open -- Day Three Wrap-Up

Let's be clear:  J.B. Holmes, playing in front of a tumultuous crowd in Northern Ireland in the last group of the day, did not choke.  Holmes actually played quite well, birdieing the last hole for a 2-under par 69 -- his third straight round in the 60's.  He is now 10-under par for the tournament.  Other Americans also played well.  Brooks Koepka shot a 4-under par 67 to move to 9-under.  Rickie Fowler shot a 66 to move to 8-under.  Jordan Spieth shot a 69 to move to 7-under.  All of these men are bunched behind Tommy Fleetwood, trying to become the first Englishman to win the British Open since Nick Faldo did it back in 1992.  Fleetwood had a glorious round, posting a 66 that left him at 12-under par.

But Shane Lowry, who grew up in Ireland, and who still lives there, was on a different plane altogether.  All the hopes for any Irish person who was excited about seeing the British Open in Ulster -- after a 68-year absence -- were fulfilled today.  Lowry was very good each of the first two days -- posting back-to-back 67's to tie Holmes for the lead at the halfway point.  Today, however, on a cloudy day where a lack of wind left Royal Portrush relatively defenseless, played the round of his dreams.  He made three birdies on the front nine, to take the turn in only 33 shots.  But on the back nine he was even better, birdieing 10, 12, 15, 16, and 17.  When it was all over, he had an almost perfect round:  8 birdies, no bogeys, and a course-record 63.  It was a spectacular performance that had the huge Irish crowds roaring with joy.  And it blew open what had been a very close golf tournment before Lowry reached the back nine.

Of course now he has one more day to go.  And tomorrow is supposed to feature some "weather" as the British Open commentators put it.  In fact, the R & A is so concerned about weather conditions that they are sending everyone out earlier than usual -- much as the Masters did earlier this year.  Today Lowry teed off at 3:50 PM British Summer Time -- or 9:50 AM Central Daylight Time.  Tomorrow he and Tommy Fleetwood are scheduled to hit their first officials shots at 1:47 PM BST, or 7:47 AM CDT.  It's a shame for any American fans who will be in church when the final shots are made.  But on the other hand, if Lowry plays like he did today, there won't be that much drama.

One more point.  As far as I can tell, Royal Portrush is an excellent golf course.  There are very few lightweights at the top of the leaderboard, and the crowds have been spectacular.  I really hope that it will remain in the Open rotation.

1.  S. Lowry (IRL):  -16 (67+67+63=197)

2.  T. Fleetwood (ENG):  -12 (68+67+66=201)

3.  J.B. Holmes-10 (66+68+69=203)

T4.  B. Koepka-9 (68+69+67=204)
T4.  J. Rose (ENG):  -9 (69+67+68=204)

T6.  R. Fowler-8 (70+69+66=205)
T6.  L. Westwood (ENG):  -8 (68+67+70=205)

T8.  D. Willett (ENG):  -7 (74+67+65=206)
T8.  J. Rahm (ESP):  -7 (68+70+68=206)
T8.  T. Finau-7 (68+70+68=206)
T8.  J. Spieth-7 (70+67+69=206)


  1. I'm really enjoying Go Heath weekend at the HP. I am traveling, and this has been my exclusive channel for British Open coverage--totally satisfying.

    Go, J.B. Holmes!

  2. The battle for Low Kentuckian has turned into a regular humdinger.

  3. I could see myself going through a Bruce Hornsby stage.

  4. Brooks Koepka has opened the final round with three bogeys, and Dan Hicks has a pretty good line: "I guess he just can't handle the championship pressure." He was joking.