The Latest: Lowry builds 4-shot lead in British Open

National Sports

Xander Schauffele of the United States drives off the 7th tee during a practice round at Royal Portrush Golf Club, Northern Ireland, Monday, July 15, 2019. The148th Open Golf Championship begins on July 18. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — The Latest on the British Open (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

Shane Lowry has a tournament-best 63 and a four-shot lead going into the last round of the British Open.

The Irishman broke out of a four-way tie late on the front nine with a birdie on No. 9, and then the putts started pouring in. He ran off three straight birdies late in the round and narrowly missed one final birdie that would have tied the major championship record.

All that matters to Lowry is one round standing in the way of a claret jug at Royal Portrush.

Tommy Fleetwood shot 66 and lost ground. He was four behind.

This is the second time Lowry has had a 54-hole lead in a major. He was four shots ahead at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open, which Dustin Johnson rallied to win.

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7:05 p.m.

The tee times for the final round of this year’s British Open have been brought forward because of the expected bad weather in the afternoon.

The first pairing at Royal Portrush will head out to the first hole at 7:32 a.m., one hour earlier than had been planned. The final group will go out at 1:47 p.m.

The weather is expected to deteriorate quickly on Sunday afternoon with rain and strong wind in the forecast.

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5:50 p.m.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry is the leader midway through the third round of the British Open.

Lowry, seeking his first major championship, birdied the ninth hole to move out of a pack of players and get to 11 under par with the back nine yet to play. He led J.B. Holmes, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood by a shot.

Rickie Fowler shot a 66 that moved him up the leaderboard. He was three off the pace at 8 under, while Brooks Koepka was another shot back playing the back nine.

Royal Portrush was proving easier for players, largely because there was little wind on the seaside links. Earlier, Danny Willett tied the best round of the week with a 6-under 65.

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5:15 p.m.

Danny Willett has moved into contention at the British Open by shooting 6-under 65, tying the best round of the week at Royal Portrush.

Willett is 7 under for the tournament and holds the clubhouse lead, three strokes behind the leaders out on the course.

The 2016 Masters champion was bogey-free in his third round and made six birdies. He missed a 4-foot putt for birdie at the last.

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4:10 p.m.

Kyle Stanley says he was “caught off guard” after being criticized by a playing partner for not alerting spectators to an errant tee shot, and described the incident as a “non-issue.”

Bob MacIntyre said after his round on Friday he was angry with Stanley for not yelling “Fore” before his tee shot went into the crowd on the 17th hole. The ball hit the mother of MacIntrye’s caddie.

Speaking after his third round Saturday at Royal Portrush, Stanley said his caddie, his playing partners and some volunteers or marshals all shouted “Fore,” and he thought “that was enough.”

Stanley said he hasn’t apologized to MacIntyre and doesn’t feel he needed to be “schooled on the rules of golf.”

Stanley, who didn’t play with MacIntyre on Saturday, shot 2-over 73 in the third round and was 2 over for the championship.

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3:50 p.m.

The leaders at the British Open have started their third rounds.

Shane Lowry of Ireland and J.B. Holmes of the United States are both at 8 under and will play together in the final pairing on Saturday.

Lowry shot 4-under 67s on both days. Holmes shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday and followed that with a 3-under 68 on Friday.

The pair finished the first two rounds one stroke ahead of Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood.

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3:10 p.m.

Gary McNeill was simply making up the numbers in the third round of the British Open. He still had a blast.

The head professional of Royal Portrush since 1999, McNeill realized at 8:30 p.m. on Friday that he might be needed the following day as a marker in the first group of the third round. Seventy-three players made the cut, so Paul Waring would be going out on his own Saturday and was happy to have some company.

McNeill, who was Irish Amateur champion in 1991, hit a few balls on the range in the morning and felt good. He took a swing on the first tee, with thousands watching him, and he said his club “felt like a feather.”

It got much better for McNeill, who made a long putt across the green at No. 17 for his highlight of the day.

McNeill says “I’m really glad I put myself through it. But I need to lie down after that.”

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1:45 p.m.

Graeme McDowell didn’t go quite as low as he wanted to get back in the mix at the British Open, but the Portrush native moved in the right direction. McDowell hit his approach to 2 feet on the 18th for his fifth birdie in a round of 3-under 68.

That put him at 2-under 211 for the championship. The co-leaders, Shane Lowry and J.B. Holmes, were still nearly two hours away from teeing off on a bright, windy day on the North Atlantic. McDowell grew up on these links as a member of Rathmore Golf Club.

Of the five players to finish the third round, McDowell was the only one to break par.

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10:15 a.m.

Xander Schauffele is happy to be only five shots behind going into the third round of the British Open. He’s just not happy with what he sees as inequity over testing that caused him to get a new driver before the opening round.

Schauffele says his Callaway driver narrowly failed a test for the limits of the trampoline effect when the driver strikes the ball. Schauffele says he had to spend practice time trying to find a new driver, and only when he made more adjustments Friday morning did he feel comfortable. He opened with a 74 and followed that with a 65.

Schauffele says he wasn’t bothered that his driver didn’t pass the test and he was happy to find one within the legal limits. He says he had issues with how the R&A only randomly selected 30 players for testing. Schauffele says it would be just as easy to test the entire field.

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10 a.m.

Royal Portrush had all of Saturday morning to recover from the reality that Rory McIlroy is no longer part of this British Open.

In a second round so packed with emotion that it felt like Sunday, McIlroy nearly recovered from his opening 79 by coming up one birdie short of making it to the weekend. McIlroy, one of three players from Northern Ireland celebrating the return of the Open after a 68-year absence, says he has never felt such support.

And now for the rest of the show.

Shane Lowry of Ireland and J.B. Holmes were tied for the lead at 8-under 134, one shot ahead of Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood. Among those within three shots of the lead were Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth.

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