Saturday, 08 July 2017
Jon Rahm  (European Tour)
Jon Rahm (European Tour)

Jon Rahm and Daniel Im will share the lead heading into the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation after an engaging third day battle at Portstewart Golf Club.

The Spaniard entered Saturday one shot behind overnight leaders Im and Benjamin Hebert and the trio took part in an engaging battle at the top of the leaderboard throughout the day.

Rahm made four birdies in a row from the 11th to take the lead but American Im made a gain of his own on the 14th join him on 17 under and the pair will head into Sunday just a single shot ahead of France's Hebert.

Japanese Hideto Tanihara was then at 15 under, a shot clear of another Frenchman in Julien Quesne.

Rahm has risen to 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking with the help of three European Tour top tens this season including two top fives in World Golf Championships.

He will now go in search of his first title with Im also looking for a maiden win after narrowly keeping hold of his card last year.

Im had only led once before in his European Tour career but should he prevail in the season's third Rolex Series event with a seven million dollar prize fund on offer, he will have claimed a wire-to-wire victory.

Rahm turned in 35 with two birdies and a bogey and when Im made three birdies in four holes from the fifth, he held a two-shot lead at the turn.

But Rahm was the next man to go on a run, holing a 25-footer on the 11th and a left-to-righter on the next. He was agonisingly close to an eagle on the 13th and when he got up and down on the 14th after a poor tee-shot, he had the lead.

Im then hit back with a birdie of his own on the 14th and needed a smart par save from a bunker on the last to stay in the lead.



Hebert had birdies on the second and seventh but serious trouble off the tee led to a double-bogey on the ninth and he was in danger of slipping back. A bounceback birdie on the tenth followed and he took advantage of the back-to-back par fives before making an excellent par save on the last.

Tanihara fired the lowest round of the day on Friday with a 65 and was on course to post the same score as he made birdies on the second, fifth, seventh, ninth, tenth, 13th and 14th to join the lead before just a second bogey of the week on the 17th dropped him back.

Quesne is a two-time European Tour winner but has struggled for form somewhat this season making just five cuts in 14 events with only seven rounds in the 60s.

He made a mockery of that form on Saturday, birdieing the second, fifth, seventh and 11th before making four in a row from the 13th to get to 14 under. A dropped shot on the 17th brought him back to the pack but his momentum was not stalled and he holed a lengthy putt on the last to set the target while the leaders were in the very early stages of their rounds.

Australian Scott Hend joined Quesne in signing for a 64 and he was 13 under alongside World Number 13 Justin Rose, another Englishman in Oliver Fisher and New Zealander Ryan Fox.

Hend registered an eagle and six birdies in his effort while Rose also made six birdies in a blemish-free 66.

Fox recovered from a bogey-bogey-start to post a round of 70 while Fisher had one bogey in posting the same score.

Welshman Bradley Dredge carded a 67 and Matthew Southgate a 71 to sit at 12 under.

Peter Hanson was in the group at 11 under with the help of the 22nd hole-in-one of the season. The Swede holed a six iron from 197 yards on the third and that was the second ace of the week after Joost Luiten needed just a single blow on the sixth on Thursday.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RAHM, JonESP18-24
T2RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-18
T2SOUTHGATE, MatthewENG18-18
T4DRYSDALE, DavidSCO18-17
T4FOX, RyanNZL18-17
T4ROSE, JustinENG18-17

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