Ireland’s remaining trio survived the third round cut but it’s now Paul Dunne who looks most likely to contend for the title heading into the final round of the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach Club.
The Greystones star navigated his way through testing winds to fire four birdies on route to a two-under par 70.
On a much tougher day, Dunne’s ability to eek out a score saw him rise 12 places to a share of 7th at minus-11 and with just four shots to make up on the leaders, the stocky winger was understandably please with his play going into the final day.
“Obviously happy with the week so far,” reflected Dunne. “Scoring was really good here the first couple of days but I managed to shoot a nice score on the Creek Course which is the easier of the two courses.
“Today the wind blew strongly, 25-30mph winds, which made the course play much trickier. A lot of cross winds on the back nine and judging ball flights was very difficult but I did well to kind of grind out a couple under.
“I had a few nice 10-footers for saves on the back nine for par to keep things going and took my chances when I had them which gives me a chance going into tomorrow which is great.
“It’s a nice place here, very linksy, fairly short and narrow – a lot of bushes surrounding the holes but a lot of irons off the tee for position too and you can attack from there. The greens have been soft which has probably contributed to the good scoring over the first couple of days but the wind was the protection today.”
It’s been a slow start to the season for the 26-year old who made his first cut of the season last weekend at the Saudi International. There Dunne struggled over the weekend to a 51st place finish but encouraged that his scoring is finally matching his play, the Greystones star heads into the final day at 13th Beach Club hopeful of mounting a challenge.
“Overall I’m feeling good about everything. The game’s been trending better over the last few weeks than the scores suggest so nice to see it come out in the scores a little bit and I’m ready to go tomorrow and see what number I can post.”
Meanwhile Gavin Moynihan had the honour of comprising the first ever mixed group this morning at 13th Beach Club and the Dubliner didn’t disappoint.
“A tough day out there but a fun one,” he Tweeted as the winds played havoc with the field. For the Mount Juliet professional’s part, Moynihan hung tough, carding five birdies to post a two-under 70 of his own to tie for 24th on seven-under par.
While it might not have been such a good day for Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey but the experienced campaigner still managed to make the final round cut on the mark alongside Moynihan at minus-seven.
Hoey returned a birdieless round of golf with three bogeys on the card for a disappointing 75 on moving day but with a round to go, he’ll be hoping to finish on a high after firing 66/68 over the first two days.
At the top, Wade Ormsby takes a two-shot lead into day four after the men were separated from the boys in some unaccustomed Aussie winds.
After very low scoring on Thursday and Friday, high winds and some heavy rain made life far more difficult on the weekend, with Ormsby recovering from an early double-bogey to card a two-under par 70 and move to 15 under.
Fellow Australian Matthew Stieger recorded the round of the day with a stunning 65 to sit at 13 under alongside England’s Callum Shinkwin, who signed for a very impressive 66.
Challenge Tour graduate David Law, South African Justin Harding and Australia’s Brad Kennedy were then three shots off the lead.
Ormsby claimed his maiden title at the 264th time of asking at last season’s UBS Hong Kong Open en route to finishing a career-high 48th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
The 38-year old has now teamed up with two-time European Tour winner Robert Rock and Liam James and the coaching changes look to be bearing fruit on home soil.
“I made a bit of a meal of it straight out of the box,” he said. “It was just tough out there. I just kept grinding, really, that’s all we can do in weather like that. You’re going to hit a lot of bad shots, need to recover a lot and I did that quite well so I’m happy.
“I feel good. I’m pretty relaxed this week, I’m treating it as a bit of a holiday. I had a tough week last week so I’m trying to enjoy myself a little bit more this week, so I’m doing that so far.”
Stieger was out in the very first group of the day and made birdies on the second, third, tenth, 11th, 13th, 14th and last to get within one of the lead with a 65.
Shinkwin then joined him at 13 under with a 66 that included a double-bogey and eight birdies. The Englishman made gains on the second, third, fifth, seventh, tenth and 11th, and bounced back from his blemish on the 13th with birdies on the 16th and last.
When the leaders got under way, the rain had relented a little but there was still a stiff breeze, although Kennedy made a birdie on the first from 15 feet.
Ormsby found a horrible lie on the par-five second and ended up surrendering a double-bogey, with overnight leader Jason Scrivener also dropping a shot from a similar position.
An excellent tee-shot on the par-three next then allowed Scrivener to make a birdie from ten feet and when he holed from similar range on the next, he had a two-shot advantage and was four ahead of Ormsby.
Scrivener would go on to drop five shots over his remaining 14 holes and it was left to Ormsby, Kennedy and Law to chase the clubhouse leaders.
Ormsby played a lovely chip on the par-five fifth as he regained a shot but when Kennedy recovered from a bogey on the seventh with brilliant second shots into the ninth and tenth, he led by one.
A 12-footer at the ninth got Ormsby back to level on the day and a Kennedy bogey after missing the green on the 12th meant there was a five-way tie for the lead.
Ormsby got a nice bounce into the green on the same hole and capitalised from 15 feet, adding another birdie on the par-five last, while Kennedy dropped a shot on the 15th.
Law birdied the second and then sandwiched two monster putts on the sixth and seventh with bogeys on the third and ninth before coming home with a bogey on the 13th and a birdie on the 15th.
Earlier in the day, Harding had gains on the second, fifth, sixth, eighth, 14th and 15th in a 66.
Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Dunne and David Bransdon were at 11 under.
In the women’s event, American Kim Kaufman had a late stumble but will take a two-shot lead into the final round after moving to ten under with a 75.
Frenchwoman Celine Boutier matched the lowest round of the day with a 69 to sit alongside home favourite Su Oh at eight under.