Peter the great. Picture: Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.iePeter Lawrie finished with a birdie to snatch top spot as the leading Irishman and called for the Irish Open to return to Killarney next year.

With insurance giants Zurich believed to be waiting to step in as sponsors, the Dubliner hopes the event will be played at the spectacular Kerry venue once more.

Tied for eighth on nine under after a 69 and top Irishman for the first time in his 10th appearance, Lawrie said: “I needed a fast start but missed chances at the first and second and it was always going to be tough after that.

“But Killarney is a wonderful venue and hopefully we will be back here again with a sponsor, touch wood. If it wasn’t for all the volunteers and Discover Ireland, we wouldn’t have a tournament.”

Playing some of the best golf is his career, Lawrie has had a stop-start season following the arrival of his fourth child recently.

But he’s feeling good about his chances of grabbing a second tour win before the season is out, insisting: “The signs are good and it’s all there. It’s just a matter of putting it together for four rounds.

“All the work I have been doing with my coach Brendan McDaid is paying off.”

Michael Hoey on the second hole at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club on Friday. Photo Fran Caffrey/ Click to enlarge.Hoey splashes the cash

Michael Hoey felt sick in more ways when he started with tummy trouble and finished with an expensive case of double trouble.

Feeling under the weather, the Belfast ace closed with a roller coaster 74 to slip to tied 34th on three under.

He double bogeyed the first but then had two bogeys, a birdie and an eagle to get back to one over before taking a sickening six at the par-four 17th.

Frustrated to overshoot the green there, Hoey said: “I just made a stupid decision on 17. Once I went over that green it was game over.

“I didn’t feel great and I hardly ate anything this morning or last night, my stomach wasn’t right basically.

“That’s golf, I’m more disappointed with my poor decision on 17. That was expensive, costs you money.

“My caddie wanted me to hit a nine iron and I hit eight. It was just stupid. I wasn’t thinking, just throwing money away.”

Damien McGrane and caddie John Hort. Photo Fran by Caffrey/www.golffile.ieMcGrane eases his pain

Damien McGrane finished with a sizzling 66 and insisted he had no regrets over the third round 77 that cost him the title.

The Meath man, 40, blasted six birdies and just one bogey to share 21st with Simon Thornton and amateur Paul Cutler on five under.

McGrane said: “There’s no room for regret. You just have to take it on the chin.

“After struggling all day yesterday I reprieved myself a little bit in my own mind, and that’s all I can ask for.

“Obviously there were nine tough holes yesterday in the wet and I lost it all there. Once you start dropping shots they start going away like confetti.

“Apart from that I had a solid week. I just struggled for nine holes but the whole tournament is 72 holes and it’s just unfortunate.     

“It gives me a bit of hope today. I played reasonably well from start to finish and had plenty of chances so I am happy enough.”