Robert Rock agonisingly close to third round 59 at Irish Open

Six birdies in his final six holes see English golfer shoot 60 and take the clubhouse lead

Robert Rock made a birdie on 18 to sign for a third round 60 at Lahinch. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty

Robert Rock made a birdie on 18 to sign for a third round 60 at Lahinch. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty

 

England’s Robert Rock came agonisingly close to recording the second 59 in European Tour history in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rock narrowly missed from 30 feet for eagle on the par-five 18th at Lahinch, but tapped in for his sixth birdie in succession to complete a brilliant course record of 60, eclipsing the 63 established by Padraig Harrington on Thursday.

That set a daunting clubhouse target of 13 under par and put Rock in pole position to claim his second winner’s cheque in the event, the 42-year-old famously taking home the first prize of 500,000 euros after losing a play-off to Shane Lowry in 2009 as Lowry was still an amateur.

Rock, whose playing partner Grant Forrest carded a 65 to join 2017 champion Jon Rahm in the clubhouse on eight under, said: “It was a fun day.

“I was enjoying playing with Grant. He played really well and that helped me see that there were birdies to be made and then I started putting really well.

“The finish was a bit much really, I holed a really long putt on 17 and it was only when I was walking to the second shot on 18 and checked the par (of the course) that I realised it was an eagle for 59.

“It’s disappointing not to make it but 60 is a great score and I’ve played rubbish so far this season so it’s nice to play better. It’s a good opportunity to get my season back on track, qualify for the Open and maybe win a tournament again which would be lovely, because it’s been a long while.”

Rock’s last European Tour title came in 2012, when he held off final-day challenges from the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Three places in the Open at Royal Portrush are on offer to players, who are not already exempt, who finish in the top 10 on Sunday.

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