Niall Kearney and David Carey found themselves going backwards on golf’s traditional moving day at the Hero Open at the Fairmont Resort near St. Andrews.
With the best round on day three a 67 in the much windier conditions, it presents a jam-packed leaderboard with 23 players within five shots of the lead heading to the final round of the Euro 1.75m event on the Torrance course.
Up front, American Sean Crocker admits he would love ‘something shiny’ as he remains on target to capture not only a maiden DP World Tour win at the Hero Open but a first pro career success in his five years in the play-for-pay ranks.
Crocker, and a month shy of his 26th birthday, has enjoyed three second-place results in his prior 106 DP World Tour starts, and now takes a two-shot lead into day four of the Euro 1.75m event
The Zimbabwe-born Crocker, who used to play Test cricket before getting into golf, added a three-under-par 69 in tougher scoring conditions to move to 18-under with Swede Jans Danthorp (69) now in second place on 16-under.
Crocker has led from the start of the event and looked still well in command until posting a double-bogey ‘6’ and the par-4 13th hole. However, the current World No. 241st ranked golfer brilliantly made amends superbly finding the green in two at the par-5 18th and then clearly thrilled to send his 41-yard eagle putt to the bottom of the cup.
“That was a nice little bonus on 18”, said Crocker. “I was trying to get it up and down for a birdie but to see that ball drop was pretty cool.
“I was still trying to make birdies even though it’s pretty windy. I was just plotting around the golf course, and a couple of putts dropped. It was nice to see that putt on the par three go in, I missed a few before that and wasn’t feeling the best with the putter. That one gave me a bit of confidence. Made a few in a row, then parring along and found the back side of a wall (on the 13th).
“Saying that it’s nice to have a bit of room but I also know those gaps can be closed very quickly. Just got to play my own game tomorrow and see what we can do.
“It would probably be the most special day of my life to win this week. I play golf for the love of it, for trophies and all that stuff. It’s been a long time since I’ve held something shiny so it would be a nice little present”.
Kearney went into the third day sharing 15th place on 10-under-par but a level par 72, that included five birdies but also three bogeys and a penultimate hole double-bogey has seen the Royal Dublin attached pro drop nine places to now be sharing 24th place.
Likewise, Carey struggled producing an ‘out of nowhere’ four-over 76, and tumble down the board in a round of just two birdies but also four bogeys and with a double-bogey ‘6’, at the par-4 ninth hole when he drove OOB, sticking out like the proverbial dog’s hind leg.
It was disappointing for the CastleKnock golfer who a day earlier was clearly buoyed in making the halfway cut in his maiden DP World Tour event. As mentioned, and unlike the eagle and birdie feast of the prior two rounds that included joint course-record 61s on day two, the much windier day three conditions saw the lowest round being a pair of 67s.