|Dates: Thursday to Sunday 1-4 July Highlights on BBC One NI: Saturday and Sunday at 22:30 BST|
|-15 L Herbert (Aus); -14 J Veerman (US); -12 J Harding (SA); -11 R Karlberg (Swe), F Laporta (Ita), D Whitnell (Eng); -10 A Johnston (Eng), R Ramsay (Sco), G Forrest (Sco), J Scrivener (Aus), A Sullivan (Eng)|
|Selected others: -9 R Bland (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng) -7 C Sharvin (NI), J Catlin (US); -6 M Kaymer (Ger); -5 G McDowell (NI); -4 R McIlroy (NI); -3 S Lowry (Ire)|
Lucas Herbert leads by one shot going into the final round of the Irish Open at Mount Juliet but Rory McIlroy’s challenge faltered in county Kilkenny.
The 25-year-old Australian, ranked 100 in the world, has led since the opening round and a two-under-par 70 improved his score to 15 under on Saturday.
His nearest challenger, American Johannes Veerman, closed in with a 67.
McIlroy’s round was marred by double bogeys at the fourth and 16th as a one-over 73 left him on four under.
The 2016 champion made four birdies in his round, plus a bogey, leaving him just inside the top 50 and out of contention.
A lost ball on the fourth hole and a drive out of bounds on the 16th proved costly for the world number 10.
“I got off to a rough start with a bogey at three and a double at four but I clawed myself back into it,” said McIlroy.
“I hit one out of bounds at 16 but apart from that the rest of my round was OK. I didn’t hole anything – my putting was good but they just didn’t go in. It was another of those days.”
Looking to add to his solitary EuroJournal success in the 2020 Dubai Desert Classic, Herbert picked up four shots in his first 10 holes but dropped shots at the 10th and the 14th reduced his lead from three to one.
“It was a solid bad day I guess you’d say but in some ways frustrating,” said Herbert. “I felt like I could have put some real distance between myself and the field and didn’t do that.
“I want to get to 20 under as a personal goal. So if I can do that, someone’s got to come catch me and if they do, good luck to them.
“To win the Irish Open would be really cool, whether it’s wire-to-wire or not. I think it would be a really cool one to put on your resume that you’ve won the Irish Open.”
South African Justin Harding produced the lowest round of the day, his seven-under 65 moving him to 12 under.
Tommy Fleetwood is one of a number of English players within touching distance of the leaders as his 68 left him nine under.
Sharvin leading Irish contender
County Down’s Cormac Sharvin is the best placed of the four Irish players who made EuroJournal. The Ardglass golfer sits seven under after an impressive bogey-free round of 69.
Graeme McDowell moved up the leaderboard with a two-under 70 to get to five under.
The former US Open winner endured a horror start as he dropped shots at each of the first three holes but managed five birdies in the remainder of his round to lie tied for 35th.
Conditions were tough on Saturday as a combination of rain and wind made scoring difficult and among those who struggled were 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry.
The Offaly man posted a double bogey on the third on his way to a 74 and a three-under total.
Defending champion John Catlin is seven under going into Sunday’s closing round and he is one of many players in contention to clinch the three places available for the Open Championship at Royal St George’s for those who have not already qualified.