OAKMONT, Pa. — Shane Lowry, the 29-year-old barrel-chested, bearded Irishman who looks more like a bar bouncer than a pro golfer, hit the ground running when the third round of the U.S. Open resumed Sunday morning, making two birdies over the last four holes at Oakmont Country Club for a 65 and a four-stroke lead at seven under par. “To be honest, I would have taken four pars and gone home for a bit of rest,” Lowry said. “It was a really good morning’s work for me. One of the best rounds of my career, 65 on this golf course against these guys. Hopefully, I can keep going.” Lowry is being chased by Dustin Johnson, one of the heartbreak kids of major championships, who’s at three under par, along with Andrew Landry, the local qualifier out of Texas by way of the University of Arkansas who’ll be in the final twosomes with Lowry come Sunday afternoon. At two under par is Lee Westwood, another chronic major bridesmaid, and Daniel Summerhays. Lowry has quite simply never been on a stage like this and it will be fascinating to see how he handles the pressure. He had one win on the PGA Tour and three in Europe but he’s only made the cut in eight of his 14 majors with just two top-10 finishes. Then again, none of the seven golfers sitting within seven strokes of the lead has won a major. Johnson, meanwhile, has let titles get away from him in several majors, most recently in the U.S. Open last year at Chambers Bay when he three-putted from 12 feet to finish one stroke behind Jordan Spieth. DJ may have gotten a break when Landry birdied No. 18 to get into the final pairing. Johnson may do better not going head-to-head with the man he’s chasing. Johnson has two second-place finishes, five top-fives and 11 top-10s in majors without a victory. Westwood, too, has yet to win a major, as is also the case for Sergio Garcia, who goes into the final round seven back. Combined, Johnson, Westwood and Garcia have nine runner-ups, 25 top-fives and 48 top-10s in majors without winning one of golf’s most coveted titles. After a week of catch up caused by three rain delays and finally a suspension of play on Thursday, this U.S. Open is finally off the clock and back in position. There is no reason things shouldn’t be decided today—unless the dreaded P word comes into play. This is the only one of golf majors—or any event, really—that still uses an 18-hole playoff. That would happen on Monday. And since there hasn’t been one since Tiger Woods edged Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines when he won his last major in 2008, it seems about due. And avoiding that might be the best reason to root for Lowry to protect his lead. Or is it? The players may not want an extra day of the torture test known as Oakmont, but for the fans it just extends the enjoyment of watching golf’s most demanding test.
U.S. Open: Lowry extends lead to four shots as third round wraps up Sunday morning
Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR