Saturday, July 06, 2019

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open: Robert Rock within inches of firing 59 in the third round

Robert Rock - stunning round at Irish Open
Robert Rock - stunning round at Irish Open
England's Robert Rock came agonisingly close to recording the second 59 in European Tour history in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Day Three latest

England's Robert Rock came agonisingly close to recording the second 59 in European Tour history in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rock narrowly missed from 30 feet for eagle on the par-five 18th at Lahinch, but tapped in for his sixth birdie in succession to complete a brilliant course record of 60, eclipsing the 63 established by Padraig Harrington on Thursday.
That set a daunting clubhouse target of 13 under par and put Rock in pole position to claim his second winner's cheque in the event, the 42-year-old famously taking home the first prize of 500,000 euros after losing a play-off to Shane Lowry in 2009 as Lowry was still an amateur.

😲🤞⛳️ Robert Rock had this putt for an eagle on the 18th and a round of 59!

6⃣0⃣ Agonisingly, but what a round! Six straight birdies to finish, 11 in total, and just one bogey.

👏 It was his lowest career round by three shots!

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Rock, whose playing partner, Scot Grant Forrest, carded a 65 to join 2017 champion Jon Rahm in the clubhouse on eight under, said: "It was a fun day.
"I was enjoying playing with Grant. He played really well and that helped me see that there were birdies to be made and then I started putting really well.
"The finish was a bit much really, I holed a really long putt on 17 and it was only when I was walking to the second shot on 18 and checked the par (of the course) that I realised it was an eagle for 59.
"It's disappointing not to make it but 60 is a great score and I've played rubbish so far this season so it's nice to play better. It's a good opportunity to get my season back on track, qualify for the Open and maybe win a tournament again which would be lovely, because it's been a long while."
Rock's last European Tour title came in 2012, when he held off final-day challenges from the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Three places in the Open at Royal Portrush are on offer to players, who are not already exempt, who finish in the top 10 on Sunday.

Day two report

-9 Lombard
-8 Pepperell
-7 Campillo, Ancer, Westwood
Eddie Pepperell will be disappointed not to claim the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title to add to a case of wine he won this week, despite only just returning from injury.
A back problem had sidelined Pepperell since mid-May and forced him to miss the US Open at Pebble Beach but he showed no signs of rust in adding a 67 to his opening 65 to trail halfway leader Zander Lombard by a shot at Lahinch.
Before the serious action got underway, Pepperell took on New Zealand's Ryan Fox in a 14-club challenge on the par-three eighth at Lahinch and emerged victorious with some brilliant shot-making to win the wager which had been agreed beforehand.
"I've surprised myself, I guess, to be in this position," said Pepperell, who won the Qatar Masters and British Masters last season, and was third in the Players Championship in March.
"I don't feel like I've played great but I've certainly been quite steady and my short game has been great.
"I would be quite honestly disappointed if I didn't win, or certainly come close to winning, being in this position with my recent record in terms of my form over the last 12 to 18 months.
"I certainly feel very calm leading and if I don't get in my own way over the weekend, I don't see why I can't win this tournament, and I'm not afraid of winning it, so that's a nice feeling.
"I think in the past I would certainly have been a lot more nervy in this position but I feel relatively calm, to be honest, so I'm looking forward to a good weekend ahead around a great course."
Lombard, who was joint sixth at halfway in last year's Open but finished 67th after a closing 82 at Carnoustie, declared himself "ecstatic" to find himself in the lead after six straight missed cuts.
"I went through a bit of a bad spell, missing a few cuts by one, and it's really just been hard graft the last three months, sticking to the process with my team," the 24-year-old South African said.
"It just came together at the right time I suppose, and I'm happy with the results so far. I'm so comfortable on links golf. It's never just a normal shot. It's always a little three-quarter, a little punch, judging the wind right.
"I've had great success on links golf in my amateur career and hopefully I can take it into the weekend."
England's Lee Westwood, Mexico's Abraham Ancer and Spain's Jorge Campillo are two shots off the lead, with defending champion Russell Knox another two strokes adrift thanks to an eagle on the 18th in a battling 68, with the Scot recovering from playing the first six holes in three over.
Overnight leader Padraig Harrington slipped five shots off the lead after struggling to a 73, while Graeme McDowell missed the cut after a second successive 72.
"You have to stick in there, and I was a little better on the back nine, so hopefully I have not done too much damage," three-time major winner and 2020 Ryder Cup captain Harrington said.
"Four under par is still in it. I'm under pressure now over the weekend. That's the problem."
Former champion Shane Lowry, who won the title in 2009 while still an amateur, and 2017 winner Jon Rahm are both two under after rounds of 72 and 71 respectively.


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