Turner has Irish eyes on Galgorm prize

Niall Turner. Picture: Getty Images

Muskerry’s Niall Turner shares the lead heading into the final round of the Northern Ireland Open in Association with Sphere Global and Ulster Bank after a three under par third round 68 at Galgorm Castle moved him to the summit alongside second round leader Emilio Cuartero Blanco.

Turner birdied the 18th to set the clubhouse target at 14 under par while his Spanish counterpart could only make par to remain on the same score, with Jamie McLeary and Clément Sordet two shots further back in joint third place.

The 32 year old suffered a bad back injury in January that disrupted most of his season thus far but credited the support of the local crowds with spurring him on this week.

“It’s fantastic playing in front of an Irish crowd,” he said. “This event is so well supported, and I had some close friends and family up here today.

“It’s great to hear the roar from the crowds, like on the last hole when I made a long birdie putt, and it’s fantastic to know that you’ve got the home crowd behind you.

“It was actually a bit of an up and down round. I got it going really well in the middle of the round but missed a lot of short putts coming in.

“I was happy with my final two holes though, saving par on 17 and then a lovely birdie on the last. All in all I’m delighted with a 68.

“It’s exciting to be in the final group in the final round. I’ve always enjoyed playing in front of crowds so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ll treat it like any other round and go through the usual pre-round routine. It’s hard to do but you have to stay true to what you’ve been doing and trust in your game. I’m really excited about it.”

Cuartero Blanco admitted nerves got the better of him as he made a double bogey on the first hole, but he made five birdies and an eagle to fire a 69 and remain in a share for the lead.

“I started very badly, just some bad swings,” said the 24 year old. “I was a bit nervous today because I haven’t held the lead in a tournament since I was an amateur, but now I’m so excited.

“My round was a bit messy but the eagle on the ninth helped. I putted well and made a lot of birdies, and I was happy to be able to come back after a bad start and to be able to hold a lead.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how I perform under final round pressure. The people just want to see good shots, so I think they enjoyed me today because I made a lot of birdies, as well as quite a few bogeys, but it was good fun.

“I couldn’t be happier with the crowd that followed me. There was a family from San Sebastián and they were cheering ‘vamos, vamos’ which was nice to hear. But everyone claps and cheers everything, it’s great to have this support out here and I’m excited for even more people.”

Frenchman Sordet, in just his fourth event since turning professional, almost made a hole in one on the par three fifth as he shot a 68 to move to 12 under par.

McLeary started with a sublime approach to the first and three other birdies on the front nine moved him into contention before a bogey coming home meant he remains two shots back.

His fellow Scot Peter Whiteford fired the best round of the day, a six under par 65, and sits on 11 under par alongside Denmark’s Jeff Winther and American John Hahn.

A clutch of players remain well within striking range at 10 under par, including Road to Oman Rankings leader Ricardo Gouveia and 2013 Northern Ireland Open champion Daan Huizing.

The home hopeful Chris Selfridge, having this week made his eighth successive cut since turning professional, fired a level par round of 71 to remain on eight under par, six shots behind Turner and Cuartero.


199 E Cuartero Blanco  (Esp) 65 65 69, Niall Turner (Irl) 65 66 68, 

201 C Sordet  (Fra) 67 66 68, J McLeary  (Sco) 67 65 69, 

202 J Hahn (USA) 65 66 71, P Whiteford (Sco) 68 69 65, J Winther (Den) 67 68 67, 

203 D Law (Sco) 67 67 69, H Porteous (RSA) 65 69 69, M Armitage (Eng) 72 65 66, S Wakefield (Eng) 66 69 68, D Huizing (Ned) 65 68 70, R Gouveia (Por) 70 67 66, S Gros (Fra) 66 66 71, 

204 A McArthur  (Sco) 68 67 69, D Coupland (Eng) 69 69 66, 

205 Chris Selfridge (Nir) 68 66 71, S Arnold  (Aus) 66 67 72, C Gloet  (Den) 73 65 67, T Pilkadaris (Aus) 69 65 71, 

206 V Riu  (Fra) 67 69 70, Simon Thornton (Irl) 66 69 71, J Glennemo (Swe) 66 71 69, D Im (USA) 68 67 71, B Virto Astudillo (Esp) 73 64 69, J Lara (Esp) 70 66 70, S Manley (Wal) 66 70 70, G Woolgar (Eng) 67 68 71, 

207 R Kellett (Sco) 66 69 72, T Linard (Fra) 68 70 69, G Murray  (Sco) 70 67 70, B Stone (RSA) 66 71 70, 

208 B Hafthorsson (Isl) 69 69 70, E Goya (Arg) 66 70 72, J Watts (Eng) 68 71 69, H Joannes  (Bel) 69 68 71, R Evans (Eng) 66 70 72, P Maddy (Eng) 68 67 73, 

209 Gareth Shaw (Nir) 73 64 72, Peter Lawrie (Irl) 68 70 71, T Sluiter  (Ned) 66 71 72, D Perrier (Fra) 69 67 73, S Matus  (Cze) 70 67 72, 

210 P Figueiredo  (Por) 70 67 73, M Orrin (Eng) 71 68 71, Brian Casey (Irl) 69 70 71, A Knappe (Ger) 69 68 73, J Lima  (Por) 70 66 74, 

211 G King (Eng) 70 69 72, Niall Kearney (Irl) 69 69 73, O Stark (Swe) 68 71 72, N Elvira  (Esp) 68 70 73, N Raymond (Eng) 69 67 75, J Robinson (Eng) 68 68 75, S Walker (Eng) 71 68 72, 

212 J Billing (Swe) 70 67 75, 

213 L Gagli  (Ita) 69 68 76, 

214 N Kimsey (Eng) 67 72 75, 

216 A Snobeck  (Fra) 68 69 79, S Henry  (Sco) 70 69 77,