Ross Fisher (Getty Images)
Ross Fisher continued to set the pace in the 3 Irish Open - but Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Chris Wood served a reminder that he would be foolish to expect to an easy ride.
Englishman Fisher, 12 under par and leading by three shots going into the third round, extended his advantage courtesy of four birdies in the first seven holes at the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.
However, a double bogey on the eighth saw him slip to 14 under and provided a glimmer of hope to the chasing pack, amongst whom Fernandez-Castaño and Wood were the key figures.
Fernandez-Castaño, the Spaniard, shot six birdies and a bogey to move to 12 under after 16 holes, while Wood, Fisher’s compatriot, enjoyed an equally impressive round to climb to within three shots of Fisher.
Wood followed up a bogey on the par four fourth with five successive birdies, to which he added another on the 13th as the odds on a Fisher triumph lengthened ever so slightly.
“I was hitting really, really nice shots, and the putts,” he said. “That’s given me a lot of confidence and it’s sort of gone through the rest of my game.
“He (Ross) has still got a nice, healthy lead, but I’ve given myself half a chance for tomorrow.”
Italian Francesco Molinari, Fisher’s playing partner, followed up a one under par outward nine of 34 with two birdies - to complement a bogey - on the back nine to earn a share of third place with Wood.
Australian Richard Green carded a two under par 69 and was tied on nine under par with two players still out on the course: Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who suffered the same fate as Fisher on the eighth, and Anders Hansen of Denmark. They were also two under for the day.
Richard Bland, Fisher’s fellow Englishman, shot up the leaderboard with a 66 that took him to seven under alongside Dane Mark F Haastrup, who remains in contention despite bogeying two of the last four holes for a 67, and Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland.