OAKMONT (Pennsylvania) • Irishman Shane Lowry tightened his grip on golf's US Open by seizing a four-shot lead when the weather-delayed third round was finally completed on a sun-splashed morning at the Oakmont Country Club yesterday.
Two ahead overnight in the second Major championship of the year, he birdied two of his last four holes to get to seven-under 203 with a first Major title looming in his sights.
The 29-year-old from Clara, County Offaly did well to salvage a par at the last hole, coolly sinking a 10-footer to card a five-under 65 on one of the toughest golf courses in the world before pumping his fist in delight.
"It was a really good morning's work for me and I am really looking forward to getting out there in the afternoon and seeing what I can do," said Lowry, who won the biggest title of his career at last year's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"It's one of the best rounds of my career, a 65 on this course. I just need to stay in the moment, stay patient."
Dustin Johnson, the tournament leader after 36 holes, carded a 71 to share second place with fellow American and PGA Tour rookie Andrew Landry, the surprise first-round pace-setter who drained a 45-foot birdie putt at the last hole for a 70.
England's former world No. 1 Lee Westwood (69), like every other player in the top eight seeking a first Major title, and American Daniel Summerhays (69) were a further stroke back at two under.
The only other player under par after 54 holes was South African Branden Grace, who had surged into contention with a six-birdie 66 to set the overnight clubhouse lead at 209.
Lowry, ranked 41st in the world, made an ideal start yesterday, hitting his approach at the par-four 15th to 10 feet and sinking the birdie putt to extend his lead to four shots at six under.
That advantage was soon cut to three when the long-hitting Johnson, playing one group behind, followed suit by rolling in a 30-footer at the 15th to get to three under.
Lowry pocketed his second birdie of the day at the driveable par-four 17th, his tee shot settling just above a bunker 50 yards short of the hole from where he played a delicate chip to seven feet and sank the putt.
He is seeking to become the first player from the Republic of Ireland to win the US Open.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE