Lucas Herbert leads Irish Open as Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry fall off the pace
Australian Lucas Herbert will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after a day that saw major champions Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry fall by the wayside.
Herbert has been the star of the show in County Kilkenny, leading after every round so far, but it has been local hero Lowry and Northern Ireland’s McIlroy who have taken the crowds with them as fans returned to the fairways in the British Isles for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But while Lowry and McIlroy both moved backwards in the cold and rainy early conditions on day three, Herbert carded a 70 to get to 15 under and lead the way from American Johannes Veerman.
South African Justin Harding carded the lowest round of the day with a 65 to get to 12 under, one clear of England’s Dale Whitnell, Swede Rikard Karlberg and Italian Francesco Laporta.
McIlroy and Lowry were 11 and 12 shots off the lead respectively.
Herbert arrived in Ireland off the back of two top-20 finishes on the US PGA Tour and is seeking a second European Tour title after winning the Dubai Desert Classic last year.
He led by three just after the turn but bogeys on the 11th and 14th left the door ajar for the rest and while the 25-year-old admitted that he had missed an opportunity to take a commanding advantage, he was confident heading into round four.
“It was a solid bad day I guess you’d say but in some ways frustrating,” he said. “I felt like I could have put some real distance between myself and the field and didn’t do that.
“I want to get to 20 under as a personal goal. So if I can do that, someone’s got to come catch me and if they do, good luck to them.
“To win the Irish Open would be really cool, whether it’s wire-to-wire or not. I think it would be a really cool one to put on your resume that you’ve won the Irish Open.”
Herbert almost holed his approach to the second and added birdies on the par-five fifth, eighth and 10th before missed greens at the par-three 11th and 14th stalled his momentum.
That left the door open for Veerman, who put a stunning approach to six feet at the fifth for an eagle to go with five birdies and two bogeys in a 67.
The leading duo are on course to earn two of three spots at the upcoming Open Championship available to the top three players in the field not already exempt for Royal St George’s.
Having played in final qualifying, Whitnell cannot earn his way into the year’s final major, but he could earn his best European Tour finish after rounds of 67-67-71.
Englishman Andy Sullivan and Scot Grant Forrest both lost ground after rounds of 73 left them at 10 under alongside another Englishman in Andrew Johnston and a second Scot in Richie Ramsay.
Golfers warned of further sanctions if they continue to play in LIV breakaway
The DP World Tour has issued fines of £100,000 and tournament bans to its members who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event earlier this month
DP World Tour hits members who played inaugural LIV series with £100,000 fines
They have also been banned from several forthcoming tournaments including the Scottish Open.
Rory McIlroy not impressed as Brooks Koepka becomes latest big name to join LIV
The world number two labelled the players who have joined the new series as “duplicitous” for the way they have handled their breakaway.
R&A confirms LIV Golf Series players will be allowed to compete at Open
The 150th Open Championship will get underway at St Andrews in three weeks’ time.
Matt Fitzpatrick turns to other major winners for advice on dealing with fame
Fitzpatrick won the US Open on Sunday.
Brooks Koepka set to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series
Koepka’s brother Chase played in the opening event at Centurion Club earlier this month.
Gary Player urges Matt Fitzpatrick to avoid ‘poison’ of modern-day coaching
Player tells US Open champion Fitzpatrick to learn from mistakes of recent major winners, saying: “The teaching today is the worst it has ever been.”
Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddie Billy Foster ready for ‘long party’ after US Open win
Foster won his first major after a 40-year career which includes spells working for the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.
Matt Fitzpatrick backed to become a dominant force after winning first major
The Englishman claimed his first major title at Brookline.
Matt Fitzpatrick: A Blade with plenty of support who can really cut it
The Sheffield golfer landed his first major – and first professional win in America – at Brookline on Sunday.