With three rounds completed at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open calm conditions have on the whole prevailed, meaning Lahinch has yet to show its full teeth and low scoring has been the order of the day.
This was very much the case on Saturday, as early morning rain softened up the course and Robert Rock took full advantage.
Blitzing his way around the course in 60 blows, Rocky actually had a putt for eagle on the 18th and a round of 59, however, he had to settle for six straight birdies to close and a new course record.
As a result of this 42-year-old Rock finds himself in the driving seat going into the final round on -13, with a one-shot lead over Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who himself shot 63 on Saturday, and Eddie Pepperell.
A further shot behind these two on -11 comes halfway leader Xander Lomabard, while on -10 we have Bernd Wiesberger and our 70-1 pre-tournament e/w pick Andy Sullivan, who is very much in the hunt for us with a round to go.
Rock, a two-time winner on the European Tour, has not tasted victory since 2012 when he took the trophy home in Abu Dhabi. With the spotlight suddenly upon him after Saturday’s great round, it is very hard to envisage him following up his round three heroics with another low one on Sunday – which is surely what he will need if he is to lift the trophy.
As for Cabrera-Bello, despite being one of the more consistent performers on the world stage over recent years – with only three European Tour wins to his name, he is hardly what could be called a prolific winner. While his last win did come a couple of years ago in the build-up to the Open at the Scottish Open, he is not someone I would want to trust with my money going into Sunday at a short price.
Of those right at the top of the board, there is no doubt to me that Eddie Pepperell (10/3), who sits just behind market leader Cabrera-Bello in the odds makes the most appeal. However, in what in all honesty looks a hard final day to call, I am loathed to take a ‘win only’ bet at the top of the market – particularly when we are already sitting nicely with our man Andy Sullivan.
Instead therefore with the potential for low scoring still very much on the table, and with Paddy paying to a market leading 4 places each-way going into day four, I shall look a bit further down the board and take a chance that Jon Rahm at 16/1. He currently sits in ninth place on -8 and the Spaniard can produce something special on Sunday, or at least pinch a top-four finish.
The Spaniard did not have his best stuff on display for the first couple of days, particularly on Friday when he laboured to a 71, however after a level-par front-nine on Saturday, he closed out his round with a -6 back nine. The 2017 Irish Open Champion looks primed to build on this and make a final round charge on Sunday.
Looking at Sundays final round two balls and there are a couple here that catch my eye.
Firstly, I am happy to take a chance on Northern Irishman Cormac Sharvin at decent outsider odds 17/10 against Mike Lorenza-Vera in their 12:25 tee time.
I said at the beginning of the week that the big names at the head of the Top Irishman market were opposable, however, unfortunately, we went with the wrong man, as it is Sharvin who has produced the goods.
In his post-round interview on Saturday, he looked like he was having a ball this week and with a spot in the Open potentially up for grabs with a strong finish on Sunday, I can see him riding the crest of the wave to the end of the week.
Finally, while as mentioned before I am not hugely sold on the idea of Cabrera-Bello bagging the trophy, I do believe he will have the measure of Robert Rock on Sunday at 4/6 and I am happy to side with him at odds on when they tee off in the final pairing of the day at 12.55pm.
* All odds correct at time of posting.