Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
Ballyliffin GC, Co. Donegal, Ireland 05 Jul 2018 - 08 Jul 2018
Saturday, 07 July 2018
Erik van Rooyen  (Getty Images)
Erik van Rooyen (Getty Images)

Erik van Rooyen fired a stunning front nine of 29 to open up a four-shot lead in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.

The South African entered the day in a share of the lead at the fourth Rolex Series event of the season but made six birdies at Ballyliffin Golf Club to get to 14 under and surge away from the pack.

Playing partner Joakim Lagergren was his closest challenger after making three gains of his own on the front nine, with Frenchman Matthieu Pavon two shots further back.

Van Rooyen has three top tens since graduating from the Challenge Tour last season but a win at one of the European Tour's eight prestige events would truly announce his arrival.

Van Rooyen finished with two birdies on Friday and he maintained that momentum, hitting a wonderful drive to set up an opening gain and hit the front on his own.

The 28 year old then got a favourable bounce on the next and took full advantage, stiffing an approach to move to double figures and lead by two.

The rain stopped and the wind began to die down and Van Rooyen got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par five fourth to move three ahead.

The other three members of the final two groups had all started their day with a run of pars but Ryan Fox made the most of the fourth to get within two and Lagergren hit a wonderful tee-shot into six feet on the par three next to get to eight under.

An approach to 15 feet on the sixth made it back-to-back birdies for the 26 year old and he was alone in second when Fox found rough and sand to drop a shot on the sixth.

Van Rooyen's tee-shot into the seventh was not his best effort but his putt was, a triple-breaker from a long way out to take his lead back to three shots.

He got a nice lie in the rough and a nice links bounce on the next to set up a tap-in birdie but Lagergren made a gain of his own from distance as the playing partners began to pull away from the pack.

Van Rooyen was just off the front edge of the ninth green but everything he was touching was turning to gold and he holed an 18-footer to extend the lead to four.

Pavon made nine pars on the front nine to sit six shots off the lead.

New Zealander Fox was one over at the turn after bogeying the eighth to sit at seven under, alongside Spaniard Jorge Campillo and Scot Russell Knox.

Campillo was four under after 14 holes and Knox was three under after 12.

Defending champion Jon Rahm and England's Andy Sullivan were in the clubhouse at six under, alongside Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and South African Zander Lombard.

Japan's Yusaku Miyazato made the third hole-in-one of the week and 22nd of the season when he holed a nine iron from 152 yards on the 14th.

A Rolex Series Event

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KNOX, RussellSCO18-14
2FOX, RyanNZL18-14
3CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18-13
T4RAHM, JonESP18-12
T6OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-9

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