Ireland improved their position on the third day of the Espirito Santo Trophy run over the Montgomerie and O’Meara courses at Carton House in Co Kildare.
The Irish team, playing for the second time on the heavily bunkered Montgomerie course moved into fourth position overall as the USA held their lead, the world number one, two and three amateur players holding off the Republic of Korea in second place and Japan in third with Ireland alone holding fourth place.
The Irish team of Olivia Mehaffey, Annabel Wilson and Paula Grant had fallen back on day two. But on what is perceived as the more difficult course again showed their strength.
Mehaffey came home in an impressive two-under par on a day when plus figures were commonplace, while Wilson, the 17-year-old schoolgirl from Lurgan, was level par for her round and Grant one over par.
The Americans again showed who were the favourites for this World Amateur Team Championships with the world number one Jennifer Kupcho shooting one under par and Kristen Gillman level for the day.
The USA set a 36-hole scoring mark on day two of the championships, fuelled by matching bogey-free scores of eight-under 65 from the top amateur Kupcho and Gillman on the O’Meara course, which gave them a one-stroke lead over defending champions Republic of Korea coming into day three.
South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout claimed the halfway lead in the Made in Denmark event as local favourite Thorbjorn Olesen narrowly kept his Ryder Cup destiny in his own hands.
Bezuidenhout added a 65 to his opening 66 for a halfway total of 13 under par, two shots ahead of first-round leader Jonathan Thomson and Lee Westwood, with another Englishman Sam Horsfield another stroke adrift.
Olesen occupies the final automatic Ryder Cup qualifying place and can make certain of a debut with a top-six finish, but had to par the final three holes of his second round of 69 simply to make the cut .
England’s Eddie Pepperell (69) and Matt Fitzpatrick (68) need to win the event to have a chance of dislodging Olesen .
Rory McIlroy finished with a flourish to stay four shots behind the early leaders at the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston with a birdie at the 18th – thanks to an excellent bunker shot – completing a level par round of 71 on a difficult scoring day.
For Tiger Woods it was more of a grind on the opening Friday (the tournament finishes on Monday as it is Labour Day in the US) but he limited the damage to keep himself well in the tournament at one over par, five behind early leaders Chris Kirk, Beau Hossler and Keegan Bradley. McIlroy – playing in his first FedEx Cup playoff event of the season after he skipped last week’s Northern Trust – was coasting along nicely on the tough layout with a birdie at the fourth moving him to one under.
However, a bad patch on the back nine saw him drop shots at the 13th and 15th to slip to one over par.
But McIlroy, who said on Thursday that he has been working on a new swing change after a week of intense work with his coach Michael Bannon, flipped a lovely sand shot out from a greenside bunker at the last before rolling in a putt for the birdie four to sign for a 71.
McIlroy came into this week at 28th in the FedEx Cup rankings but still well in contention to claim the title for the second time with two more playoff events to go after this weekend.
Four birdies on the back nine helped world number one Dustin Johnson to a round of 68 to sit one off the lead while FedEx Cup leader – and last week’s winner – Bryson DeChambeau signed for a round of 70 and one under.