Friday night, Rory McIlroy thought he may be too far behind the lead to catch up at the Horizon Irish Open. Turns out, he’s got a chance to win yet again at The K Club come Sunday.
McIlroy tied the low round of the day, carding a 6-under 66 to move to 11 under and solo third. He came into the third round eight shots back, but come Sunday he’s only two behind Hurly Long in search of another Irish Open victory.
“It didn’t really feel like a charge,” McIlroy said. “It just felt like a really solid day of golf, giving myself plenty of looks and converting a few, which is probably the difference between the last two days and today. A really solid day’s play and I needed a little bit of help from the leaders, as well.”
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Jordan Smith and Shubhankar Sharma each sat at 13 under after the second round but struggled Saturday. Smith dropped one shot and is solo second at 12 under, one behind Long. Sharma was 3 over and is T-4 at 10 under.
The 28-year-old Long was solid, carding a 2-under 70 to move into the solo lead. He hasn’t won on the DP World Tour and is ranked 252nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. His best finish this season is 30th in Kenya. What’s with the strong play after 54 holes?
“You know, when we had those four weeks off, I practiced really, really hard trying to find something, and you know, putting my mind to what had gone wrong, Long said. “I found some things that for me personally are some keys, having a plan. I played well this year. It wasn’t horrendous, but it’s just these guys are too good to be mediocre.”
Long is looking forward to the pressure and challenge of McIlroy chasing him Sunday, along with Smith and a host of others.
“Obviously the first two round, there wasn’t too many people watching my group today but there was a lot more and tomorrow there is obviously going to be a lot more,” Long said “Yeah, I’m just looking forward to it. Obviously it’s a big stage but it’s going to be a lot of fun, I know that.”