It was the great Harry Vardon who suggested that “for this game you need, above all things, to be in a tranquil frame of mind.”

Vardon knew what he was talking about. He won six Open titles after all. Here at rambunctious Royal Portrush, you could barely hear yourself think. If it was tranquillity you were looking for, then forget it.

The din generated by the masses who accompanied Shane Lowry’s every move with deafening, feral roars could have been heard on the Mull of Kintyre. As Lowry negotiated between greens and tees through great waves of humanity, he just about needed noise-reducing ear muffs.

“Honestly, walking from the green to the next tee, the people were literally a yard away from you roaring in your face as loud as they can,” he said with a beaming grin.

They had plenty of reasons to make an almighty racket. This was one of the brilliant Open Championship rounds. A wonderfully assembled eight-under 63, one shy of the major championship record low but a new course record at Portrush, powered the 32-year-old into a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood with a 16-under tally of 197.

The tee-times for today’s concluding 18 holes have been brought forward due to a grisly weather forecast later in the afternoon. For Lowry, the last round can’t come quickly enough.

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On the turf of Northern Ireland, a country ravaged by division down the years, the golfing unity is giving Lowry great strength. He may have been born over 150 miles from Portrush but the Offaly man is very much the local favourite now.

Rory who?

The emotional departure of the aforementioned Master McIlroy on Friday had been keenly felt but Lowry’s sustained assault at the top of the leaderboard has kept Irish eyes smiling.

“I grew up four hours away from here so I kind of felt like I could come here under the radar a little bit,” said Lowry of a week which started with all the attention on local heroes McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell.

“That’s what was nice about this week. Obviously I’m not quite under the radar anymore.”

Sharing top spot at the start of the day with JB Holmes, Lowry conjured a superb display of front-running golf as he burst away from the pack with a surge of purpose, poise, precision and thrusting aplomb.

Prior to this week’s push for golf’s ultimate prize, Lowry had missed the cut in his last four Opens and was a combined 23-over par during that wretched run. Today, he has a glorious opportunity to join Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Clarke and McIlroy as Irish winners of the Claret Jug.

“That’s the most incredible day I’ve ever had on the golf course, I honestly can’t explain what it was like,” said Lowry. “I said to my caddie walking off the 17th tee, ‘We might never have a day like this on the golf course again so let’s enjoy this next half hour.’” If he completes the task today, Lowry will have to reassess that comment.

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While the crowds were giddy and boisterous, the conditions at Portrush were relatively calm. The Dunluce links was vulnerable to an ambush and Lowry pounced.

“It is one of the best scores I’ve ever shot, but we got very lucky with the weather,” he said. “The wind laid down and it played quite easy towards the end. The greens were perfect and we’re playing links golf in no wind. It virtually had no real protection out there. If you were hitting decent shots you were getting good results.”

Lowry was certainly doing that. Three under at the turn, the 32-year-old upped the ante on the inward half and left the rest wheezing on behind.

Birdies at 10 – he hoiked one out of the rough and watched it roll to within 15- feet – and 12 inched him ahead of the impressive Fleetwood but his closing salvo propelled him into a commanding advantage.

He birdied 15, 16 and 17 before a raking birdie on the last reared up just about a roll short of the cup. The adulation that greeted his supreme effort was loud and long and akin to the chanting euphoria you get at a Ryder Cup.

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Three years ago, Lowry led the US Open at Oakmont by four shots after 54-holes but he lost it. In that time, though, he has gained a daughter and a calming perspective that family life can bring.

“I felt at the time in Oakmont that my golf meant a lot more to me back then than it does now,” he added. “I’m not saying that it doesn’t mean everything, it’s my career.

“But I’ve got certain things in my life that make it different. I’ve got family now. No matter what I shoot tomorrow my family will be waiting for me.”

Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur in fairly grotty conditions a decade ago. With the weather set to take a turn for the worse today, many assume he will have a distinct advantage. “But Tommy Fleetwood grew up in Southport, he’s played in bad weather and bad conditions before,” Lowry warned of the menace that lurks behind.

Fleetwood, who is also looking for his major breakthrough, pieced together a lovely 66. He was bogey free and didn’t miss a green in regulation.

“I feel like the guys that are up there on the leaderboard, from what I’ve seen, are not going to be too fussed about the conditions,” he said as he looked ahead to the final day.

“It’s not like it’s an advantage or disadvantage to anyone. I personally don’t mind the conditions, whatever they are. I feel like I’ve had some of my best rounds in terrible, terrible conditions, where I’ve enjoyed grinding it out.”

Holmes is still hanging on in there after a 69 but he dropped six shots behind on 10-under while Brooks Koepka, who has finished second, first and second in his last three majors, will still fancy his chances at nine-under alongside Justin Rose.

Lowry is the man to catch. A procession to a coronation? Who knows. It will be loud though.