Germany’s Hurly Long was the sole leader at the end of round three of the $6 million Horizon Irish Open being played at The K Club, Co. Kildare, Ireland but was being hotly pursued by England’s Jordan Smith and a charging Rory McIlroy.
Following rounds of 67 and 66 Long fired a two under par 70 to be 13 under 203 with only the final round of the DP World Tour event remaining on Sunday.
The 28 years-old Long, currently 150th in the Race to Dubai Rankings and 252nd in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) was out in 33 and came home in 37 with four birdies to go along with his 12 birdies and two eagles in his first two rounds.
It was a strange day of scoring with none of the second-round leaders really repeating their first 36-hole form, unusually the leading third round score was only level with round two, in arguably ideal weather for scoring with a golf course in pristine condition, yet challenging pin positions.
Home favorite Rory McIlroy played his way into the tournament with a seven birdie 66 best of his week, charging up 23 spots on ‘moving day,’ with the only blot on his card, a bogey six on the par five 16th. That could have been so much more with one visit to the water followed by another one hitting the rocks and fortunately bouncing onto the green.
Rory, Number One on the Race to Dubai and Number Two in the OWGR, again did not have his ‘A’ game but it shows how his game is still maturing. Only two players are ahead of the four-time Major winner.
Second round leader Shubhankar Sharma from India fired a three over 75 to drop to tied fourth.
The third player in the final group of the day, Ross Fisher (England) shot 74 and lies alongside five others on 10 under par.
Dubai based 30 year-old Adrian Meronk scored a five birdie 71, with two bogeys and a double on hole seven, the third hardest hole of the week, that places him in tied 30th with 18-holes to go.
Meronk told Khaleej Times after his round: “Today I played with Rory for the third straight day. To see the reaction and love all the home crowd have for him is very special. To have such a following of our group again – really focused my game – which is probably what I needed following my experiences over the last few days. “Today was not what I had really hoped for – I was tied 31st when I marked my card at the end of my round and I eventually finished tied 28th.
“I will have a much earlier tee time tomorrow – hopefully I can free wheel under the radar and post a good score and see where I can finish.” Her added.
“As defending champion this week – it is never easy, I just hope I can have a strong finish to this season – there are some big events coming up before I come back to Dubai for the season ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates,” said Meronk.
- Smith and Sharma lead Irish Open after foggy start to DP World Tour event
- Dubai's Adrian Meronk has McIlroy and Horschel for company in Irish Open
Tomorrow (Sunday) will see 27 players within six shots of the leader and a photo finish on the cards. With 90 players, a very big field playing in the final round with play again in three-balls.
The 2023 Horizon Irish Open is supported by Dubai Duty Free and Emirates Airline.
Third Round Leaders (Par 72).
H. Long (Ger) 67. 66. 70. 203.
J. Smith (Eng) 66. 65. 73. 204.
R. McIlroy (NI) 69. 70. 66. 205.
J. Brun (Fr) 67. 70. 69. 206.
R. Fox (NZ) 71. 69. 66. 206.
G. Forrest (Scot) 70. 67. 69. 206.
R. Fisher (Eng) 66. 66. 74. 206.
S. Sharma (Ind) 65. 66. 75. 206.
C. Hill (Scot) 69. 65. 72. 206.