THOMASTOWN, Ireland (AP) — Australian golfer Lucas Herbert stayed on course for a wire-to-wire victory at the Irish Open after shooting 2-under 70 in the third round for a one-stroke lead on Saturday.
Herbert led by three shots after making four birdies in his opening 10 holes, but bogeys at Nos. 11 and 14 brought the field back into contention at Mount Juliet.
Johannes Veerman was the nearest challenger, the No. 350-ranked American shooting 67 to move onto 14 under par for the event.
Justin Harding was a further two strokes back after a 65, the lowest round of the day, and there were three players on 11 under: Dale Whitnell (71), Francesco Laporta (68) and Rikard Karlberg (67).
Rory McIlroy could shoot only 1-over 73 and was out of contention, 11 shots off the pace.
Herbert is seeking his second European Tour title, after the Dubai Desert Classic last year.
He is bidding to become the third Australian winner in the Irish Open’s 94-year history, and the first wire-to-wire winner since Mikko Ilonen in 2014.
“In one aspect, it’s kind of frustrating. I could have really put a good one away and felt like I got too far away from the majority of the field, but 15 (under) probably has just left the door open a touch,” Herbert said.
“So still going to have to really be on it tomorrow. … If I can get to 20 under, I feel like it’s going to be pretty hard to catch, and if I am caught, someone has played really good golf and they probably deserve to win it.”
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