Niall Kearney is certainly enjoying the sunshine in Gran Canaria and is best of the Irish heading to the final round at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open after returning his best round of the week, a 6-under par 64 at Meloneras Golf.
The scoring has been low all week and Kearney’s 12-under par tally sees him just outside the top-20, six strokes off the lead held by South African Garrick Higgo. With only four bogeys all week and after carding seven birdies today, three of which were in his first four holes, Kearney will no doubt be on the hunt early in his round again on Sunday.
The Royal Dublin man admitted he made the most of an early start on moving day. “I was pleased to get in before the wind got up because yesterday was tough, I was out late yesterday and felt like we got the tougher part of the day. So it was nice to get out early today. The greens were fresh and it was a little bit calmer so it was easier to score.”
“I got it going early. The putter warmed up on the front side, which was good and I managed to get a little bit of a momentum early.”
Jonathan Caldwell is just a couple of strokes behind Kearney and sits on 10-under par after a third round 67 which included a costly double bogey on the par three 5th.
It’s Higgo leading the way by two shots though after he made the most of a fast start to record a seven under par round of 63 having entered the day three shots off the lead. That all changed quickly after sinking three birdies and an eagle in his opening four holes and he went on to shoot the lowest round of his European Tour career to get to 18 under par.
“It was an unbelievable start, but I wasn’t playing that well. It’s definitely a course where you can hit it off line. I putted well and my chipping has been great. I definitely scored very well. I didn’t play so well in terms of off the tee, but the start was unbelievable. A couple of times we were in some odd spots and I couldn’t believe where I hit it to,” said Higgo.
“The chip shot on ten was a tough one. I have been working hard on my short game – it hasn’t been my strong point for the last six months. It was a bit of a hit and hope, but I knew if I could get it up a little bit with some spin, I had a chance of leaving it within eight foot. It was definitely a nice touch. For sure it is one that you practice, especially around here with the tight grass. But it’s one that you don’t want to use too often.
“I’ll take every hole as it comes (tomorrow). I will try to be aggressive if I can, but I’m just going to enjoy it. It’s a great spot to be in,” he added.
Higgo, who is playing just his 24th European Tour event this week isn’t new to the pressure that will come on Sunday having already been a Tour winner at last season’s Open de Portugal at Royal Obidos and he now finds himself two shots clear of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, Scotland’s Connor Syme, and Austrian Matthias Schwab, who eagled the 17th to jump into contention.
England’s Sam Horsfield and Dane Jeff Winther are three shots off the lead at 15 under par while Wu Ashun of China equalled the course record set yesterday by Syme, Horsfield and Thorbjørn Olesen with his nine under par round of 61 to sit among eight players at 14 under par.