Murphy has it all to play for despite treble-bogey ‘8’ in Spain

Adam McKendry
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John Murphy (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

John Murphy moved inside the top-five at the Empordà Challenge in Girona but a costly triple-bogey will see him start the final round four shots back of the leaders after failing to gain any ground on Saturday.

The Kinsale man carded a third consecutive four-under 67 at Empordà Golf to move onto 12-under for the tournament, but that is still four strokes adrift of Julien Brun and Andrew Wilson, who both maintained their leads from the second round in Spain.

The pair also fired third round 67s of their own to move onto 16-under, which has them one shot clear of Sweden’s Jens Dantorp with 18 holes to play, with the trio putting a little bit of daylight between themselves and Murphy and Sweden’s Björn Hellgren in fourth.

It was another good day at Empordà Golf for Murphy, who has shown no signs of losing that momentum from a good run of results in recent weeks, but he will be very disappointed not to be closer going into the final round.

The 23-year-old’s frustration will stem largely from a triple-bogey eight at the par-five eighth, which ruined what was otherwise a very tidy card that could have had him teeing off in the final group on Sunday.

Three birdies in his opening five holes – and one bogey – had Murphy off to a flier in Girona, but the triple was a huge setback, particularly coming on a par-five, just as he looked to be getting up a head of steam and launching an assault on the top of the leaderboard.

But, to the Kinsale man’s credit, he responded as well as he possibly could by adding an eagle and three more birdies – including back-to-back birdies to finish his round – on his back nine to at least put himself within touching distance of Brun and Wilson going into the final day, even if his chances are slim.

At the top, Sunday’s final pairing will be the same as it was on Saturday, Brun and Wilson both playing out steady 67s to maintain their advantage at the summit to lead at 16-under – Wilson going bogey-free in his round, while Brun had five birdies and one bogey.

“I am very pleased with (my round),” Brun said. “I struggled a bit today. I didn’t feel good, so I am very happy with that score, and it was very windy as well so it got quite difficult out there. A 67 is very good.

“I want to do as good as I can and see where it gets me and hopefully, we are going to have a good battle and it’s going to be fun.

“It got windy very quickly when we were on the second or third hole; The wind kept picking up and the pins are quite tough as well, but it makes it a good challenge.”

Wilson added: “I felt pretty good. I feel like I’ve been in contention a few times this year and I think that put me in a good position for today.

“I have messed up a few times this year – Holland wasn’t great, but having that experience should stand me in a good position for tomorrow.

“The conditions were quite tricky; I was thinking about being bogey free down the stretch, so I am happy to not drop one today.

“I probably played better today with the weather conditions. I hit some really good approach shots and I just didn’t manage to hole those putts but equally holed a few mid-range ones so it’s always nice to get them in.”

They are trailed by two-time Challenge Tour winner Dantorp, the Swede’s bogey-free 65 moving him just one behind the leaders, with fellow countryman Hellgren mixing eight birdies and two bogeys in a 65 of his own to sit alongside Murphy at 12-under.

Meanwhile, Michael Hoey is down in 44th after a one-under 70 in his third round moved him onto four-under overall and he is currently projected to drop two places in the Race to Mallorca standings to 34th.

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