Robert Rock was inches away from the second 59 in European Tour history.
The 42-year-old Englishman had 35 feet left for eagle from the fringe at Lahinch Golf Club's par-5 18th hole, but missed just left. Instead, Rock tapped in his sixth straight birdie, 11th of the day, to shoot 10-under 60 in Saturday's third round of the Irish Open.
"Once the tee shot [on 18] found the fairway and we were walking up, I had a little glance at the card to check the par because I thought, 'Is it 70 or is it 71?' And it was nice to see it was 70 and an eagle would do it," said Rock, whose 60 set an Irish Open and Rolex Series record. "Hit quite a good shot in, not quite what I had in mind, but it was close enough to give me a thought of it, and yeah, hit a decent putt. Glad I didn’t leave it short."
Rock, who shot 7-under 29 on the back nine, is 13 under for the championship and leads Rafa Cabrera Bello (63) and Eddie Pepperell (66) by a shot entering Sunday's final round. Second-round leader Zander Lombard (68) is two back.
He is the 21st player in European Tour history to shoot 60 or better. England's Oliver Fisher remains the only player in that group to break 60. Fisher shot 12-under 59 at last year's Portugal Masters.
Coincidentally, Rock's caddie, Gary Tilston, is the twin brother of Guy Tilston, who was Fisher's caddie in Portugal.
Rock entered the week ranked No. 333 in the Official World Golf Ranking and hasn't notched a top-10 finish in his past 21 worldwide starts. Instead, he's made more of an impact recently on the teaching side. He serves as the instructor for several players, including world No. 24 Matt Wallace.
He failed to make it through Final Qualifying for The Open on Tuesday, but now is in position to earn his ticket to Royal Portrush another way.