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Third round underway at The Open

Third round underway at The Open
© Reuters
Graeme McDowell and Charley Hoffman claim birdies early in the third round at Royal Portrush.

Royal Portrush head professional Gary McNeill was given the honour of accompanying first man out Paul Waring on the third day of The Open.

With an odd number – 73 players made the cut – remaining in the field Waring was given a marker to play alongside as he teed off at 9.35am and that prize was handed to O'Neill, who missed out in qualifying for the tournament outright last month.

The Royal Portrush club shop closed so staff could watch McNeill tee off with a somewhat understandably nervous low, left shot off the first.

Graeme McDowell tees off at the first hole on day three of the Open at Royal Portrush.
Graeme McDowell tees off at the first hole on day three of the Open at Royal Portrush (David Davies/PA Images).

Despite a healthy breeze helping over the opening few holes birdies were hard to come by with just two managed by the first five groups.

One of those went to the only remaining Northern Irishman left in the field Graeme McDowell, playing in the most high-profile group of the morning alongside two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, as he took advantage of the par-five second to move to level par.

Charley Hoffman recorded the other, also at the second but defending champion Francesco Molinari could not advance his score from an overnight one-over through four holes.

Overnight Open leader Shane Lowry was due to tee off his third round at 3.50pm.
Overnight Open leader Shane Lowry was due to tee off his third round at 3.50pm (Richard Sellers/PA Images).

With winds expected to strengthen later in the day it was likely to mean an even more testing afternoon for the leaders.

Ireland's Shane Lowry and American JB Holmes were last off at 3.50pm, with the pairing of Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood just ahead of them as they looked to strengthen their chances of becoming the first Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.

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Shane Lowry pictured on July 19, 2019
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