Rookie professional Dermot McElroy made an eagle and four birdies in a solid 69 to go into the final round with a top finish in his sights in the Volopa Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort.
The 23-year old from Ballymena is tied for seventh place on two under par, six strokes behind Germany’s Bernd Ritthammer, whose six under par 66 leaves him two ahead of England’s Sam Walker.
“I am trying not to think about the importance of another good performance,” said Ritthammer, who currently sits in ninth place in the Road to Oman Rankings.
“Obviously I know that if I have another good finish this year then I have a good chance of securing a top 15 spot. I know that I have a great chance of doing that tomorrow but the task now is getting that out of my head.
“It was definitely the putter that went well for me today. My long game wasn’t very sharp and I was having trouble hitting my driver onto the fairway – and my irons were not as good as usual.
“My wedges were good but it was definitely my putter that worked the best for me today – over the back nine especially. I was in trouble a couple of times and my putter saved me, so I have to thank it!
“I played really solid yesterday too. I had a very good front nine before the putter helped me quite a bit again on the back nine. If the putter is not working on those days you can’t score well because your long game can never be good enough in gusts that go up to 35 miles per hour.
“I am really pleased with my short game, not so much my long game, and am looking to play a bit more solid off of the tee tomorrow.”
McElroy raced to the turn in 32 when he birdied the fourth and sixth and then eagled the seventh.
When he birdied the par-three 11th to go five under for the day, something special looked in store. But he bogeyed the par-five 12th and double bogeyed the 15th before a birdie at the 17th undid some of the damage.
Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin recovered from bogeys at the first and third with four birdies in five holes from the seventh en route to a two under 70.
He’s tied for 30th on two over par with Chris Selfridge (72) tied 39th on four over and Neil O’Briain (81) at the back of the field on 11 over.
Scores after round three
208 B Ritthammer (Ger) 72 70 66,
210 S Walker (Eng) 66 75 69,
212 M Delpodio (Ita) 73 72 67, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 72 73 67,
213 A Rai (Eng) 69 75 69, S Hodgson (Eng) 70 70 73,
214 Dermot McElroy (Nir) 74 71 69, A Karlsson (Swe) 79 68 67,
215 A Ahokas (Fin) 72 73 70, C Bouniol (Fra) 73 71 71, E Dubois (Fra) 68 77 70, M Armitage (Eng) 75 69 71, P Widegren (Swe) 75 69 71, S Tiley (Eng) 71 73 71, M Ovesen (Den) 72 72 71,
218 Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 71 77 70,
220 Chris Selfridge (Nir) 74 74 72
227 Neil O’Briain (Irl) 74 72 81.