Home hero Shane Lowry wants to finish the Irish Open with a bang and head to the next week’s BMW PGA on a high.
But while the Clara ace, 29, birdied the last to grind out a 71, it was a bad day for most of the Irish.
Graeme McDowell played his last 14 holes in seven over for a 76 while Paul McGinley had four three putts as he crashed to an 80.
The Clara man’s effort only moved him to one over par, but he believes he can finish with a round in the mid-60s and head for Wentworth with his confidence on the rise.
Lowry said: “I know there's a 64 or 65 out there for me. I just need to get out there and give myself a bit of confidence for next week.
“I can still sneak a Top-10 out of this weekend and get a good week out of this week. It's not over yet.”
Second behind Rory McIlroy at Wentworth in 2014 and tied sixth there last year, Lowry’s hopes of a Saturday charge ended when he failed to escape from sand at the second and ran up a double bogey six.
He then birdied the fourth, ninth and 10th to get into the red but had to settle for par at the Liffey-side 16th, finding water as he tried for the green in two.
A three-putt bogey at the 17th was irritating but he hit the last in two with a five iron and two putted to get back to one over.
He said: “It’s a bit frustrating because I've been playing okay. That's the luck of the draw sometimes and I unfortunately got the bad side of the draw this week.
“I thought if I could get to three under or five under today, you’re not asking for that much.
“I would have liked to be within four or five of the lead going into tomorrow, I would have thought I'd have half a chance.”
McDowell birdied the first and fourth to move into the Top 20 but he made just one more birdie at the par-five 10th, and racked up seven bogeys as he hit just eight greens in regulation.
G-Mac said: “Too many mistakes. I got off to the dream start, birdied one and three and had 20 feet for eagle on four and three putted. That kind of summed up my day a little bit
“It’s disappointing but I've really enjoyed the week and I’m just going to have to go out there and really shoot a low one tomorrow and see if I can finish with a little bit of style.”
It was a frustrating day for many of the Irish with Kevin Phelan, who had finished birdie-birdie on Friday to make the cut by one — battling to a 73 that left him tied on two over with fellow Waterford man Gary Hurley, who shot 74.
Hurley said: “I hit a lot of good shots for the first four or five holes, then I just lost my swing a bit and didn’t know where the ball was going to go and lost a bit of confidence.
“Hopefully I can go to the range now and get that confidence back because I don’t think it was tiredness.
“I found it tough to focus on targets and started seeing the danger, which is a sign you are not swinging well.
“I was in water three times today and shot two over so it is not the worst in the world. I can make some money tomorrow but I’d prefer just to play well and let the cheque take care of itself.”
Gavin Moynihan also shot 76 to tie with McDowell on three over as Paul Dunne shot 77 to sip to six over.
Former Ryder Cup skipper McGinley was a shot further back after an 80 and he blamed his putter and his driver as he hit just four fairways and three putted four times.
McGinley said: “Mentally I wasn’t at the races and it was a disappointing day. I putted horrendously.”