Kearney chasing big finish after frustrating 71 at Cazoo Classic

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Kearney chasing big finish after frustrating 71 at Cazoo Classic

Niall Kearney (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Niall Kearney will hope to bounce back from a frustrating moving day leaderboard descent at London Golf Club where he posted a third round of one-under 71 at the Cazoo Classic.

Looking to build on last week’s top-10 in Scotland, the Royal Dublin pro started the day just four shots off the lead and made some fine early moves with three birdies in his first seven holes to get to nine-under par.

He would card the first ‘6’ of his round at the par-5 eighth but after getting that shot back with a birdie on 13, it was a double-bogey ‘6’ at his very next hole that halted momentum and left Kearney cutting a frustrated figure as his bogey putt slipped limply by the right edge of the cup.

In the end 71 left Kearney at seven-under, trailing leader Rasmus Hojgaard by a full seven strokes as the great Dane compiled a stunning course record 62 to take command at 14-under. Kearney would fall twelve places to 20th on the leaderboard, projected to move up 5 spots on the Race to Dubai rankings to 116th place with the top-110 at season’s end earning their cards for next year.

Clandeboye pro Jonathan Caldwell completed the Irish scoring on day three with two bogeys and a double in his two-over 74, dropping 12 spots to a share of 58th at level par.

The Kent venue, which was the first course to become a European Tour Destination back in 2010, has a strong history of hosting big tournaments and many great players have graced its fairways, including Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Colin Montgomerie.

But the gifted young Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, who won twice in 2020 including at the Belfry in the ISPS HANDA UK Championship, went lower than any of them could on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course with a flawless ten under round.

Højgaard finished with back-to-back birdies to set a new course record – beating the previous record of 63 set by Ross Fisher at the 2008 European Open – and move to a 14 under total, storming into a three-stroke lead from six shots back at the beginning of the day.

The closest challengers heading into the final round are Scot Calum Hill, who shared the leading heading into the final day at last week’s Hero Open before losing out to compatriot Grant Forrest, and Jordan Smith, who was the third round leader at the previous week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management.

They both carded rounds of 70 to move to 11 under par, one shot ahead of Richard Bland – a winner on English soil earlier this year at the Betfred British Masters – and his fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell.

Frenchman Victor Perez, who is targeting a late push into contention for a place on Pádraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team, is one of five players in a share of sixth position on nine under.

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