Day 3 at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open saw a swirling breeze and some early rain at Mount Juliet in Ireland with the drizzle predicted to be around all afternoon on Sunday.
Here is a rundown on my boys. Hopefully we will see a charge from them all!
Rory McIlroy (-4 & T48): T49th when he finished his round with a one-over par 73 to stand -4 at the end of the day. Four birdies and two double bogey sixes on holes four and 16 spoilt yesterday’s momentum. I spoke to Rory’s caddie Harry Diamond after the round and they were going to the range to work on a few drills to get going again, not just for the final round but also the next important and hopefully eight rounds at the Scottish Open and then the Open Championship. The next 15 days can define Rory’s 2021 golfing year.
Thomas Pieters (-9 & T12): A third-round 68 that promised so much more after an eagle three on 10. Sadly, back-to-back bogies on 13 and 14 saw him slip away a chance of being a lot higher up the leaderboard. Maybe that sums up Pieters’ game over the last few years. He needs and deserves a break and it could be Sunday. He is one of the finest ball strikers in the world of golf.
Sean Crocker: (-9 & T12): Three birdies on either side of the course was balanced by a bogey on hole four and three bogeys in a row from hole 12 but birdies on 15 and 17 saw a strengthening of Crocker’s bounce-back mentality. The 24-year-old American is still learning every week. A star in the making.
Graeme McDowell (-5 & T35): He shot a 70, that started in ugly style with three bogeys on the first three holes, but he recovered impressively with five birdies and no more bogeys.
Adri Arnaus (-5 & T35): My co-coach Mike Walker in Team Cowen provides another pair of eyes and ears on all my players, and he has done a decent job with Adri since the player/coach partnership began in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year. Adri had an early wobble in on the par-four second and did not seem to recover and then had another disrupting double bogey on 13. He birdied 15 to recover somewhat with a third round 75. Not the nicest card to sign.
Sun on Sunday?
The weather forecast for the final round ominously predicts early morning fog and mist with rain and a strengthening breeze from noon onwards which will make an interesting finish.
One of the early starters could post a decent score in the clubhouse for the later players to try and catch. I am not sure it is the best final day weather.
The players tend to follow the sun around the world and not often need to wear their sponsored branded waterproofs and duck under an umbrella with their caddie and a golf bag full of dryish towels. Scotland is around the corner and that is usually where the rain is.
The DDF Irish Open on Sunday is a must-watch, with the golf-mad local fans oblivious to the inclement weather, but the rest of us should all watch it on TV!
My prediction for the winner is Lucas Herbert, a decent front-runner. Could be a wire-to-wire result if the weather doesn’t cloud his day.