Niall Kearney admitted he left a few shots out on the course in the third round of the Soudal Open but is still right in the mix for a maiden win on the DP World Tour heading into the final day in Belgium.
The Royal Dublin man carded a two-under 69 at Rinkven International to move into a share of fourth at eight-under overall and will head into the last round three shots back of leader Ryan Fox.
However, it was a day that could have been much better for Kearney, who played his first eight holes in three-under-par but failed to kick on from there as he didn’t register another birdie, instead bogeying the 10th and parring his way in.
The 34-year-old admitted it was a cold day with the putter but was pleased with how he performed, with his sights set on a potentially career-changing victory in Antwerp if he can battle to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
“I played really well. Hit the ball great. Was out in three-under and left a few out there, even on the front-nine. Felt like I could have got it going around the back and gave myself a lot of chances but didn’t really hole anything,” admitted Kearney.
“I’m just striking the ball well. Did a bit of work the last few weeks to get a draw back into my game and the ball striking is just very good. I know where the ball is going to start, I know where it’s going to curve to, distances are all bang on and I’m pin high most of the time.
“I’m hoping to get more opportunities this year but this is obviously a prime opportunity going into the fourth day. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, give myself 10 or 12 chances and hopefully drop the ball in the hole more often.”
Fox moved to the top of the leaderboard with a sensational back nine performance as five birdies in his last eight holes led to a five-under 66 that has him 11-under-par, one shot clear of England’s Sam Horsfield.
The former NI Open champion is looking for his third DP World Tour win and his back nine will give him plenty of confidence to take into the final round, but he will be chased down by Horsfield, who recorded a 69 in round three to sit 10-under, and Germany’s Yannik Paul, whose 68 has him at nine-under.
Kearney is joined at eight-under by Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, whose 65 was the best round on Saturday, as well as Germany’s Marcel Schneider and South Africa’s Oliver Bekker.
It was a tough day for leader Dale Whitnell, though, who still held the lead after eight holes having started with three birdies, but a bogey at the ninth and then double-bogeys at the 10th and 14th have him back in eighth at seven-under.