Pro Golf Weekly

Erik van Rooyen Takes 4-Shot Lead Into Irish Open Finale

Erik van Rooyen continued to impress the Irish golf fans at Ballyliffin Golf Club, as the South African posted a third-round 66 to open a four-shot advantage heading into Sunday’s finale of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Erik van Rooyen Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
Erik van Rooyen of South Africa plays his second shot on the 17th hole during day three of the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal. Credit: Oliver McVeigh/Getty Images

Entering the day with a share of the lead, Van Rooyen quickly grabbed the marquee for himself, firing a front-nine 29, highlighted by three birdies in his first four holes, and a hat trick to close on Nos. 7, 8 and 9. The former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher cruised home with nine-straight pars to finish at 14-under par.

THE CHASING PACK AT BALLYLIFFIN

Four back were New Zealander Ryan Fox (70) and Swede Joakim Lagergren (69), who will join Van Rooyen in the Sunday final pairing.

Former Masters champion Danny Willett made double bogey on No. 2, and bogeyed No. 8 to turn in 37. But the Englishman played his final-nine holes flawlessly with five birdies – including four-straight, to sign for a 69 and reach 9-under par, one shot ahead Scot Russell Knox who carded a 68.

Frenchmen Matthieu Pavon (73) and Raphael Jacquelin (68) sit T6, alongside veteran Englishman Lee Westwood (70) at 7 under.

After an opening-round 74, defending champion Jon Rahm has posted two sub-70 rounds (69-67) to slowly creep up the leaderboard. The 23-year old Spaniard will enter Sunday’s final round headlining a fivesome at T9.

Tournament host Rory McIlroy followed up opening rounds of 70 and 73 with a disappointing 72 to sit T33 at 1-under par, well back of Sunday’s chasers.

THE 2018 IRISH OPEN

THE TOP 10 LEADERS

POS-PLAYER-TOTAL SCORE (TODAY)
1. Erik van Rooyen -14 (66)
2. Joakim Lagergren -10 (69)
2. Ryan Fox -10 (70)
4. Danny Willett -9 (68)
5. Russell Knox -8 (68)
6. Raphael Jacquelin -7 (68)
6. Lee Westwood -7 (70)
6. Matthieu Pavon -7 (73)
9. Andy Sullivan -6 (65)
9. Jon Rahm -6 (67)
9. Jorge Campillo -6 (69)
9. Peter Uihlein -6 (70)
9. Zander Lombard -6 (72)
Full Leaderboard


ERIK VAN ROOYEN’S STATS

Cumulative through 54 holes
Driving: 296.7 yards
Fairways Hit: 22/42, 53.3%
Greens Hit: 40/54, 74.1%
Par-3s: -1 (2 Birdies, 6 Pars, 1 Bogey)
Par-4s: -7 (10 Birdies, 23 Pars, 3 Bogeys)
Par-5s: -6 (6 Birdies, 3 Pars)
All 54 Holes: -14 (18 Birdies, 32 Pars, 4 Bogeys)


EXIT QUESTION: ERIK VAN ROOYEN

South African Erik van Rooyen acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green during round three of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal, Ireland. Photo Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Q: How excited about the possibilities because it could be a career-changing day, really?

VAN ROOYEN: “Very much so. Look, there’s 18 holes left to navigate and that’s going to be my job tomorrow. Obviously I would love to get a win. But you know, that’s 24 hours from now.”


Credit: Getty Images, European Tour Media, Fastscripts


Jeff Smith

Jeff is a writer and content producer for Pro Golf Weekly. He is working on a book, documenting the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the major golf tours.

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