KILLARNEY, Ireland – Ross Fisher will take a three-shot lead into the third round of the Irish Open after shooting a 10-under 61 Friday.
Fisher had a streak of 10 birdies in 12 holes – including six in a row – in a bogey-free round to reach a 12-under total of 130 at the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.
Francesco Molinari of Italy was second after shooting a 66, with nine players in a tie for third another two shots behind.
Fisher was in position to become the first player to shoot a 59 on the European Tour after reaching 10 under on the 14th hole, but then missed three late birdie putts – one from five feet and another two from 15.
“Not until I got onto the 14th did I think ‘If I knock this in I’ve got a chance,”’ Fisher said about the prospect of shooting a 59. “So I was a bit annoyed when I missed the putt on 15 and after the 16th. It didn’t happen, but I’ll take 61.”
Molinari also reached the turn in 6 under, but said it never crossed his mind that he could be headed for a record-breaking round.
“I didn’t even realize that I had shot 29 on the front nine until I got into the recorders’ hut,” Molinari said. “I was hitting the ball very well and putting very well, but its actually a good sign when you don’t think about how many you are under par and what kind of score you are heading to make.”
The Italian then bogeyed the 11th and 13th hole, before a birdie on the 18th.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was among the nine players at 7 under after shooting a 68, and wasn’t ready to give up hope of catching Fisher.
“I am only five back so if I get off to a fast start hopefully I can close the gap on Ross a little bit,” McIlroy said. “But it all really depends on what Ross does to be honest.”