Missed putts fail to halt Rahm's recent hot run

 Spanish golfer Jon Rahm in action during the third round of the Irish Open in Portstewart, on July 8, 2017.
Spanish golfer Jon Rahm in action during the third round of the Irish Open in Portstewart, on July 8, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

PORTSTEWART • Jon Rahm can emulate Spanish greats, including the late Seve Ballesteros, by capturing the Irish Open at Portstewart.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old birdied four holes in succession from his 11th hole in a third round of five-under 67 to move to 199, where he was joined at the top of the leaderboard by American Daniel Im.

"Patience was the key for me as I was playing good, making good swings and I was saving a couple of good shots," said the Spaniard. "It was just the putts weren't dropping."

The 32-year-old California-based Im, who had five birdies in his 68, continued to defy his lowly 542nd world ranking by staying on top at the US$7 million (S$9.7 million) event.

Frenchman Benjamin Hebert, who shared the lead with Im for the first two days, bounced back from a ninth-hole double bogey to birdie three of his last nine holes in a 69 and trail one shot behind.

His compatriot and fellow house guest Julien Quesne equalled his course record of day one with a 64 - which moments later Australia's Scott Hend too achieved.

Quesne was lying fifth on 202 and Hend a shot further back.

World No. 11 Rahm, one of the hottest golfers this season, could match the feats of Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and current Masters champion Sergio Garcia by winning the Irish Open.

Ballesteros endeared himself to Irish fans by winning the Irish Open in 1983, 1985 and 1986. Olazabal won in 1990 while Garcia took the trophy in 1999.

At the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Sebastian Munoz's hot putter earned the Colombian a two-shot lead after the third round, while Davis Love III (68) stayed in the hunt to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour.

Munoz sank three putts from 25 feet or longer, including a confidence booster at the first hole, en route to a two-under 68 at the Old White TPC.

Four strokes back is Love, who at 53 years and two months is seeking to supplant Sam Snead (52 years, 10 months) as the oldest player to win on the Tour.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Missed putts fail to halt Rahm's recent hot run'. Print Edition | Subscribe