Power fades as Poland’s Meronk becomes leading light at Irish Open

Shane Lowry now the best of the home contenders after Power cards 77 in third round at Mount Juliet

The fizz went flat, at least in terms of any Irish pretender to the crown emerging in the Horizon Irish Open at Mount Juliet where Séamus Power – his rhythm disrupted from the get-go – slipped down the leaderboard on a day that mixed sunshine with heavy downpours and which ultimately saw Poland’s Adrian Meronk claim the 54-hole lead.

Where an early round of 68 from Shane Lowry had managed to get the sell-out crowds in good mood in anticipation of a challenge by Power, it all went array for the in-form Waterford man, who struggled to a 77 for 213, three under, that saw him spiral downwards some 52 places in playing his way out of any chance to lift the Waterford Crystal trophy.

Meronk shot a 68 for 202, 14 under par, to assume the lead with a group of three players – Jack Senior, Fabrizio Zanotti and Jorge Campoillo – one stroke behind. Meronk, ranked 110th in the world, will be aiming for a breakthrough win on the DP World Tour, with his only professional win coming in the 2019 Portugal Open on the Challenge Tour.

For the Irish contingent, it was about recalibrating and resetting goals heading into Sunday’s final round.

Lowry’s 68 for 209 meant he moved into the role of leading Irish player, but well back in tied-19th place. Pádraig Harrington signed for a 71 for 212 (tied-45th), while Power’s 77 for 213 had him in tied-56th and Niall Kearney’s 72 for 214 put him in tied-64th.

Power, who’d started the day just three shots adrift, had one of those days at the office that come once in a blue moon. “I was all over the place, I did everything poorly,” conceded Power, who wasn’t helped from the start to his round when it was delayed for 10 minutes while a spectator received medical attention.

Rather astonishingly, Power and his playing partner Jack Senior were put on the clock from an early stage with no allowance for a medical emergency being the reason for the delay. It didn’t hamper Senior, who produced a fine round of 67, but Power took 10 shots more than the Englishman as he failed to catch the energy of the large galleries.

Of being put on the clock so quickly, Power said: “It’s an unusual situation. I’m sure it’s not in the rule book but we didn’t feel comfortable playing, we were waiting for medics and we weren’t sure what was happening … but that’s part of competitive golf, you never like being on the clock. If you lose time, it’s on you to make it back up. To be honest, I felt bad for Jack because I was playing so poorly it was hard to make up time because I was all over the place.”

Power – with a round that featured a double-bogey, four bogeys and a lone birdie – said: “It was just one of those days where things didn’t go well. Putts didn’t go in. I kind of did everything poorly, so it’s kind of going back to ground roots going into [Sunday]. It’s not going to get any worse, that’s the good news.”

With the chance of contending for the win effectively gone, Power will aim to get back into the swing of things with a good score before heading on to the JP McManus Pro-Am on Monday and then with his sights set on a debut at the Open in St Andrews.

Lowry got inside the cut with a sizzling late run of four birdies to finish in his second round on Friday and, although such fireworks weren’t replicated, he was well within himself in signing for a 68. “It’s all about building confidence for St Andrews,” admitted Lowry, “to go out there, play solid golf and keep hitting it where I want it.”

Third-round leaderboard

Irish and British unless stated, par 72

202 Adrian Meronk (Pol) 67 67 68

203 Jorge Campillo (Esp) 65 68 70, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 65 69 69, Jack Senior (Eng) 69 67 67

204 John Catlin (USA) 67 72 65, Espen Kofstad (Nor) 67 72 65

205 Lucas Herbert (Aus) 69 68 68, Thriston Lawrence (Rsa) 66 72 67

206 Antoine Rozner (Fra) 66 75 65, James Morrison (Eng) 69 68 69, Matthew Southgate (Eng) 71 68 67, David Law (Sco) 67 69 70, Dale Whitnell (Eng) 66 74 66, Aaron Rai (Eng) 66 70 70

207 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 64 73 70, Matthias Schmid (Ger) 70 68 69

208 Robert MacIntyre (Sco) 68 73 67, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 69 69 70

209 Shane Lowry (Irl) 71 70 68, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 73 67 69, Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 70 69 70, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 66 73 70, Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 70 66 73, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 67 72 70, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 75 67 67, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 68 68 73, Frederic Lacroix (Fra) 65 71 73, Hugo Leon (Chi) 73 68 68

210 Jamie Donaldson (Wal) 69 69 72, Matthew Jordan (Eng) 71 71 68, Callum Shinkwin (Eng) 68 74 68, Justin Walters (Rsa) 70 71 69, Sebastian Garcia (Esp) 69 71 70, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 73 67 70, Julien Brun (Fra) 72 68 70, Marcel Schneider (Ger) 65 73 72

211 Johannes Veerman (USA) 72 70 69, Sean Crocker (USA) 69 71 71, Jordan Smith (Eng) 66 73 72, Richie Ramsay (Sco) 69 72 70, Santiago Tarrio (Esp) 71 68 72, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (Esp) 71 71 69, Oliver Bekker (Rsa) 68 71 72, Marcel Siem (Ger) 68 70 73

212 Brandon Stone (Rsa) 69 72 71, Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den) 70 72 70, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 67 70 75, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 70 71 71, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 70 71 71, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 67 74 71, Andy Sullivan (Eng) 67 72 73, Romain Langasque (Fra) 68 70 74, Hurly Long (Ger) 73 69 70, Alvaro Quiros (Esp) 69 70 73, Oliver Farr (Wal) 67 73 72

213 Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 72 70 71, Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 72 69 72, Scott Hend (Aus) 72 70 71, Marcus Armitage (Eng) 73 69 71, Séamus Power (Irl) 68 68 77, Wil Besseling (Ned) 69 71 73, Yannik Paul (Ger) 71 71 71, Niklas Noergaard Moeller (Den) 69 72 72

214 Niall Kearney (Irl) 68 74 72, Thomas Detry (Bel) 72 69 73, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 70 71 73, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 71 70 73, Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 69 72 73, Renato Paratore (Ita) 70 70 74

215 Sami Valimaki (Fin) 68 73 74, Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 71 69 75, Marc Warren (Sco) 69 70 76, Marcus Helligkilde (Den) 68 71 76

216 Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 72 70 74, Oliver Wilson (Eng) 68 74 74, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 67 73 76

217 Kazuki Higa (Jpn) 69 70 78, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 75 67 75

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times