Rory McIlroy leads Irish pack but long way off the Open pace
Moving day at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open signalled the end of any realistic Irish challenge for the title.
When the dust settled on Saturday, Rory McIlroy was the leading Irish challenger, but at one under par, he was a long way off contending for a second Irish Open success.
A frustrated Shane Lowry summed it up best when asked about his hopes for Sunday.
“Whatever tomorrow brings, tomorrow will bring. But after playing my way out of the tournament it doesn't matter what I do tomorrow. It's going to be a disappointing week,” said the 2009 champion.
“It's a difficult golf course. Off the tee, second shots when you get out of position, are not easy. It's quite a tricky golf course if you hit it out of position.”
Lowry's two-over par 74 left him on level par for the tournament, the same mark as Simon Thornton who had an interesting finish to his round.
The 41-year-old, who earned his place in the event via a qualifier at Rosapenna, shanked his approach to the 18th into a car parking area and spent the next 30 minutes getting a line of sight ruling.
He eventually fired his third on to the back of the green and walked away with a five.
“It was a bonus to get into the event but I didn't play very well today, I had a few chances on the front nine, didn't putt well at all today,” said Simon.
“The goal at the beginning of the week was to finish in red numbers. If you can shoot four rounds under par around here that's a pretty good standard of golf.
“I have nothing to lose, four under or four over, I am here to enjoy myself and I will be firing at flags tomorrow where possible.”
Paul Dunne and Graeme McDowell also failed to make a charge with both finishing day three on one over par, 15 shots behind the leader South African, Erik Van Rooyen.
“It's just frustrating a little bit. I actually did kind of what I said I was going to do yesterday, which is go out there and hit some more fairways today but I couldn't seem to make that count, unfortunately,” said Graeme.
“Conditions were fairly benign again this morning, but this golf course continues to elude me. I've been here, you know, in the past and don't remember it being quite this tricky.”
The leading Irish player come the close of play on Saturday was Rory McIlroy who carded a 72 to finish on one under.
“It was pretty similar to the last couple of days and I hit the ball pretty well,” said Rory.
“I had a couple of loose shots here and there, and I holed a couple of putts out there I guess.
“The greens with that little bit of rain coming in in the middle of the round, I felt like the greens must have slowed up a little bit.
“I struggled to get the ball to the hole the last few holes. Yeah, I was just sort of struck in neutral this week but hopefully I can finish off with a good one tomorrow.”
Tee-off times in the fourth round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by The Rory Foundation,
Ballyliffin GC, Donegal
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, all times local):
(x) denotes amateurs
Starting at hole 1
0645 Andres Romero (Arg), Jin-ho Choi (Kor)
0654 Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Jens Dantorp (Swe)
0703 Daniel Brooks, Matteo Manassero (Ita)
0712 Paul Waring, Bradley Dredge
0721 Nacho Elvira (Spa), Wade Ormsby (Aus)
0730 Romain Wattel (Fra), Ricardo Gouveia (Prt)
0739 Andrew Dodt (Aus), Julien Guerrier (Fra)
0753 Thomas Bjorn (Den), Richie Ramsay
0802 Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
0811 Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Renato Paratore (Ita)
0820 Scott Jamieson, James Morrison
0829 Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Adrian Otaegui (Spa)
0838 Graeme McDowell, Paul Dunne
0847 Shane Lowry, Simon Thornton
0901 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Matthew Southgate
0910 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Jeunghun Wang (Kor)
0919 Peter Hanson (Swe), Marc Warren
0928 Charlie Ford, Adam Bland (Aus)
0937 Julian Suri (USA), Chris Wood
0946 Aaron Rai, Rory McIlroy
1000 Brandon Stone (Rsa), David Horsey
1009 David Drysdale, Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
1018 Matthew Nixon, Ashley Chesters
1027 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel)
1036 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Richard Sterne (Rsa)
1045 Robert Rock, Darren Fichardt (Rsa)
1059 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Dean Burmester (Rsa)
1109 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Alexander Bjork (Swe)
1119 Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Oliver Fisher
1129 Adrien Saddier (Fra), Sam Horsfield
1139 George Coetzee (Rsa), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)
1149 Zander Lombard (Rsa), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa)
1204 Peter Uihlein (USA), Jorge Campillo (Spa)
1214 Andy Sullivan, Jon Rahm (Spa)
1224 Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Lee Westwood
1234 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Russell Knox
1244 Danny Willett, Ryan Fox (Nzl)
1254 Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Joakim Lagergren (Swe)