Dunne just a round away from victory
PAUL DUNNE still leads the way in the Spanish Open but will face stiff competition on the final day from Nacho Elvira and world No4 Jon Rahm after the two home favourites each carded six under on day three.
Dunne has topped the leaderboard since the opening day but saw his advantage narrowed from four shots to one over Elvira after finishing the day with a four-under 68, his poorest showing so far at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid.
The Greystones man is 17 under, one clear of Elvira and two ahead of Rahm and Swede Henric Sturehed, in jointthird, while Australian Brett Rumford is next at 14 under.
Having begun the day three strokes clear, Dunne opened up with four pars before a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth moved him two clear of home favourite Rahm and Sturehed and a gain at the 12th put him further ahead.
He handed that stroke back at the penultimate hole to remain at 16 under after he found the water but the 25-year-old finished with a flourish with his fifth birdie – the ball one revolution from dropping in for eagle – to remain on course for his second European Tour title.
‘It’s probably the best my swing has felt, the best my body has felt like it’s been moving, but I just didn’t pull the shots off. There was a lot of grinding there on the back nine but I’m happy to get in with four under,’ he said afterwards.
‘I probably wouldn’t have taken it at the start of the day but given the shots that I hit, I’m pretty happy with it leading into tomorrow. It’s probably the best my swing has felt, but I just didn’t pull the shots off.’
Elvira hit 66 for the second day in a row, while Rahm struck seven birdies and bogied only once to match his compatriot’s score for the day.
Rahm, who came fourth in the Masters last week, said a victory today would be the best moment of his career so far. But if he fails to catch Dunne, he hopes Elvira takes the title instead.
‘It would be the most special victory I’ve had so far. Forgetting the majors, (the Spanish Open) is among the tournaments I want to win the most,’ Rahm said. ‘I would love to be a champion in my country. It would bring me so much pride.’
The 24-year-old added: ‘I hope there is a Spanish champion. If it’s not me, let it be Nacho. I would be equally as happy.’
Englishman Andy Sullivan roared into contention, carding a clubhouse-best score – a seven-under-par 65 – to move to 13 under overall, four behind Dunne.
Defending champion Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston is down at 11 under.
LEADING: Paul Dunne carded a 68 yesterday