Golf

Erik Van Rooyen takes charge on Irish Open moving day at Ballyliffin

Paul Kelly

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A stunning front nine of six under par 29 saw South African Erik Van Rooyen take control of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, the big South African establishing a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the fourth Rolex Series event of the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai.

“You sometimes get in a groove as a golfer where things just happen and you hit great shots and great putts and that's what happened,” said the leader.

“It wasn't different on the back nine. It's just different holes, different conditions, different everything. I still played great. Wish I could birdie the two par fives but I didn't. Looking back, all in all, I think it was a good day.”

Van Rooyen threatened to run away with the title during the first half of his third round, carding six birdies in an imperious display over the beautiful links of Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal.

 

 

He followed that brilliant start with nine straight pars on the back nine to allow New Zealander Ryan Fox, Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, Englishman Danny Willett and Scotland’s Russell Knox retain some hope of catching him and dethroning the reigning champion Jon Rahm.

“Look, there's 18 holes left to navigate and that's going to be my job tomorrow. Obviously I would love to get a win. But you know, that's 24 hours from now,” said the South African.

Lagergren and Fox posted respective third round scores of 69 and 70 to move into a tie for second place on ten under, while 2016 Masters Champion Willett made five birdies on the back nine to post a 69 haul himself back into contention on nine under.

“I've taken the golf course on the last three days and it seemed to work. It's going to be very condition-dependent again but if we get a day like this, I'll be doing what I did: Hit driver everywhere and try to hit wedges in and see if I can hole some putts,” said Fox.

“I've been lucky, I guess we've taken the theory that bogeys aren't a bad score. I've been driving the ball really well and made a couple of bogeys from bad tee shots but given myself a lot of chances from good tee shots.

“You know, the scoring is not that low and I feel like there's a lot of bunkers with the wind direction we've had that I can take out of play and they are the real penal thing on this golf course.

“The rough, for the most part, isn't too bad, especially with the amount of people out there. Someone is probably going to find it for you and thankfully that's happened for me the last couple of days.”

 

 

Knox carded 68 to lie one stroke behind Willett and one clear of Englishman Lee Westwood and the French duo of Raphaël Jacquelin and Matthieu Pavon.

But the third round belonged to one man and one man only, with Van Rooyen now set to take that four shot lead into final round as the 28-year-old chases his maiden European Tour victory in just his 34th appearance.

Collated third round scores & totals in the European Tour Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted By The Rory Foundation, Ballyliffin GC, Inishowen, County Donegal

202 Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 65 66

206 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 67 69 70, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 69 68 69

207 Danny Willett 68 70 69

208 Russell Knox 71 69 68

209 Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 68 73, Lee Westwood 68 71 70, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 71 70 68

210 Peter Uihlein (USA) 70 70 70, Andy Sullivan 73 72 65, Jon Rahm (Spa) 74 69 67, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 70 71 69, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 70 68 72

211 Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 72 69 70, George Coetzee (Rsa) 71 71 69, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 69 74 68

 

 

212 Sam Horsfield 69 69 74

213 Adrien Saddier (Fra) 68 76 69, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 71 70 72, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 70 72 71, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 69 73 71, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 72 68 73, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 69 72 72, Oliver Fisher 74 68 71

214 Robert Rock 68 77 69, Matthew Nixon 72 69 73, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 72 70 72, Ashley Chesters 68 73 73, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 71 71 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 72 72 70, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 75 68 71, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 73 70 71

 

 

215 Chris Wood 70 71 74, David Horsey 74 69 72, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 74 70 71, Aaron Rai 72 71 72, David Drysdale 76 69 70, Julian Suri (USA) 76 67 72, Rory McIlroy 70 73 72, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 72 73 70

216 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 73 73, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 71 73 72, Charlie Ford 73 72 71, Matthew Southgate 72 71 73, Peter Hanson (Swe) 71 73 72, Adam Bland (Aus) 76 69 71, Marc Warren 70 74 72, Shane Lowry 72 70 74, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 74 70 72, Simon Thornton 72 70 74

217 Graeme McDowell 71 73 73, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 73 71 73, Renato Paratore (Ita) 75 67 75, James Morrison 73 70 74, Scott Jamieson 69 74 74, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 72 71 74, Paul Dunne 73 72 72, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 74 74

218 Richie Ramsay 70 74 74, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 73 71 74, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 74 71 73, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 73 72 73

219 Ricardo Gouveia (Prt) 73 71 75, Romain Wattel (Fra) 72 72 75, Paul Waring 71 71 77, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 70 73 76, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 74 71 74, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 76 69 74, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 74 76

220 Daniel Brooks 74 71 75, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 72 72 76, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 71 73 76, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 72 71 77, Bradley Dredge 72 73 75

221 Jin-ho Choi (Kor) 69 74 78

223 Andres Romero (Arg) 70 75 78

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