Strong winds gusting over 25 mph have delayed the start of the final round of The 3 Irish Open at Co Louth by more than two hours.

The fourth round will now operate a two-tee start, with the last match of the day teeing off at 11:30 and finishing at approximately 16:45.

Irish amateur Shane Lowry is tied for the lead with England's Robert Rock on 16 under par - two strokes clear of Sweden's Johan Edfors with Nick Dougherty, Alastair Forsyth and Thomas Levet six shots off the pace on 10 under.

Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie and fellow Scot Marc Warren are seven strokes behind the leading pair on nine under with Darren Clarke the next best of the Irish on four-under par.

Lowry, 22, could have been leading on his own but bogeyed the final hole of his third round for a 71 as playing partner Rock made birdie.

The Esker Hills international has become a national folk hero over the past four days, opening with a brilliant 67 and following it with a sensational 62 on Friday to lead by two strokes at halfway in his first European Tour start.

He was simply stunning on Saturday as he carded a 71 in a third round that began with a brilliant par and was then delayed for five hours because of high winds.

He fired four birdies and a bogey in difficult conditions to forge a two shot lead playing the par-five 18th before a three-putt bogey cost him the outright lead.

He knows that if thing go his way today, he could become the second amateur to win on the European Tour this season and conceded that his performances so far have given him the self-belief to go out and do it.

Admitting he was nervous on Saturday, he said: "It gets a little bit nervy, all right, coming up the last. Not really obviously nervous. If you were nervous, you wouldn't be human, really. Everyone gets nervous. 

"I would say I've been nervous more on the first tee; it will be exciting more than nothing else. I went out there today and you know, these guys have been doing it for years and this is my first event on The European Tour, and leading after three rounds, what can you say."

Lowry has been inundated with calls and texts from well-wishers but hasn't had time to answer any of them.

He said: "I didn't reply to the texts because there were so many of them. There were 150. I had a couple of calls, took a couple of calls, but try not to take too many, you know."

Assessing his chances going into the final round, he knows that it is going to be tough.

"Obviously Edfors had a good score today," he said. "You know the way these guys are, they can come out and shoot 65 tomorrow, 64. You never know what's going to happen. I just have to go out and try to play my own game and try to finish as high up the leader board as I can, and if it's the top, so be it."