Fisher maintains lead at Irish Open


2009 European TourKILLARNEY, Ireland – Ross Fisher of England will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Irish Open after shooting an even-par 71 on Saturday.

Fisher built a five-shot lead after opening his third round with four birdies in his first seven holes. But after putting his approach shot into the water the par-4 eighth, Fisher made double bogey and dropped two more shots late in his round to finish at 12 under.

That gave renewed hope to his playing partner Francesco Molinari, who at one point was six strokes off the lead. Molinari shot a 69 to finish one behind Fisher.

Another stroke back is Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who shot a 3-under 68.

Fisher had the consolation of knowing that despite playing his last 11 holes in 4 over, he had not played himself out of contention.

“I am a little bit disappointed,” he said. “And I hadn’t realized how far I was ahead at the start of the back nine. I certainly didn’t realize I was six ahead.

“But I am still leading, I have got a one-shot lead and I am still the man to catch. But if I am going to win I am going to have play more like Friday when I shot 61.”

Molinari, seventh in the qualifying table that will provide Europe with nine Ryder Cup players in October, knows that a victory will guarantee he makes his debut against America.

“Obviously I am in a good position,” Molinari said, “but I think quite a few very good players are within very few shots of the lead, so its going to be an interesting Sunday. And if the winds gets up its going to be tough.”

Australia’s Richard Green and Padraig Harrington, who both shot 69s, are in fourth place, with the Irishman convinced he can repeat his 2007 victory at Adare Manor in Limerick.

“I am happy still to be in the tournament, and to have actually seen the lead cut down,” Harrington said. “If I play well and get in a good position, I think it’s possible to catch anyone out there.”