MAYNOOTH, Ireland (AP) – Dutch golfer Joost Luiten will take a one-shot lead into the final round at the Irish Open on Sunday with a chance at his second victory this month.
Luiten moved to 13 under par and one ahead of Pablo Larrazabal of Spain after both players shot bogey-free 6-under 66s at Carton House on Saturday.
Luiten won the Lyoness Open in Austria this month for the second European Tour title of his seven-year pro career.
“I have been playing very well the last two tournaments as I was also 10th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth after my win in Austria,” he said. “So tomorrow I will try to do the same, and if so, hopefully it may be good enough to win the trophy. It’s all a matter of staying patient.”
Even though major winners Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke failed to make the halfway cut, Luiten said there will be no less pressure on Sunday.
“You really can’t worry about who is behind you on the leaderboard, I am not bothered about who is behind me,” Luiten said.
“The key for me will be trying to get some early birdies to help set up a good score.
Larrazabal was also a two-time Tour winner, though his last success was two years ago in Munich.
“I had a lovely day in the office today with the Irish crowds truly awesome,” he said. “I hope tomorrow I can hit the ball as good as these three days and hole as many putts.”
England’s Robert Rock (71) was in third place on 10 under and still within sight of making amends for losing a playoff for the 2009 Irish Open.
England’s Paul Casey (67) and Scottish newcomer Scott Henry (69) were tied in fourth place on 9 under.
Six players shared sixth, including former Irish Open winner Jose Maria Olazabal (71), who is looking to end an eight-year Tour victory drought.
However last year’s victorious Ryder Cup captain again struggled with the driver.
“Well, it’s just a shame as the leaders are running away, they are just too far ahead,” he said. “The driver cost me big again. I only made three fairways today, and it’s very, very difficult to score when you do that.”
Olazabal is looking to become the oldest winner of the event at 43. He won the 1990 Irish Open.