OAKMONT, Pa. – The early-morning wakeup call was worthwhile for Shane Lowry, who extended his U.S. Open lead from two shots to four heading into the final round at Oakmont.
With only four holes to finish in his third round, Lowry made a pair of birdies and a key par save on 18 to polish off a 65 and move to 7-under 203, the lowest 54-hole score at an Oakmont U.S. Open.
“I would have taken four pars and went home for a little rest,” said Lowry, who was assessed a penalty in his second round on Saturday. “It was a really good morning’s work for me, and I’m looking forward to getting out there this afternoon and seeing what I can do.”
After beginning his morning with a pair of bogeys, Andrew Landry closed his round with back-to-back birdies, including a 45-footer on 18, to cap an eventful round of 70 and move into the final group.
The last group will tee off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Dustin Johnson played his remaining five holes in 1 under to move into a share of second place, four shots back, with Lee Westwood and Daniel Summerhays another stroke behind.
In a preview of this afternoon’s final round, there were plenty of thrills and spills after the restart.
Lowry pushed forward with birdies on 15 (11 feet) and 17 (7 feet), but perhaps even more important was his two-putt from 70 feet on the final green to stay four clear.
“That’s one of the best rounds of my career,” said Lowry, 29, who has three career titles, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last summer.
The last player to lose the U.S. Open after holding a 54-hole lead was Payne Stewart in 1998.
Landry, who was only two shots back when the horn blew, found three bunkers in his first two holes. But he two-putted for birdie on 17, then canned a 40-footer on the last to join Lowry in the last group.
Landry, ranked 624th in the world, would become the first player to win the U.S. Open in his major-championship debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913.
“I’m confident with my game and the setup of the golf course,” he said. “It suits my game perfectly. I drive the ball well. I putt the ball well. Get a hot driver today, and who knows what can happen.”
The early start wasn’t as kind to Sergio Garcia (72), who made a pair of bogeys coming home and is now seven behind.
Sleeping in Sunday morning were Branden Grace and Jason Day, who polished off third-round 66s late Saturday afternoon. Day, the world No. 1, could become the biggest comeback winner of a major, after opening with 76 and sitting in a tie for 100th after the first round. But with Lowry’s late-round surge, Day will need to erase an eight-shot deficit in the final round.
Despite nearly three inches of rain in a 36-hour span earlier in the week, Oakmont has surrendered only six under-par totals through three rounds. That number should dwindle by day’s end, with tucked hole locations and lightning-fast green speeds expected in the final round.
Lowry has only one top-10 in 12 worldwide starts this year, but he enjoys some historical symmetry with Angel Cabrera. When Cabrera won at Oakmont in 2007, he was ranked 41st in the world. Lowry’s world rank entering this week: No. 41.