Robert Rock narrowly missed out on shooting 59 as he surged to the top of the leaderboard at the Irish Open on Saturday.
Rock carded a 10-under round of 60, including six birdies in a row, to break the course record and lead the way after day three in Lahinch.
Ranked 333 in the world and without a tournament triumph since 2012, Rock showed few signs of the fireworks to come in posting 67 and 70 in his first two rounds.
But Rock was sublime with 11 birdies and a bogey helping him to record the lowest round of his career by three clear shots, while a missed long-range putt at the last stopped him recording an eagle for the European Tour’s second ever 59.
60 with a bogey
Six consecutive birdies to finish
Lowest career round by three shots
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 6, 2019
Rafael Cabrera-Bello fired a seven-under 63 despite dropping two shots in his first six holes and sits level in second with Eddie Pepperell on 12-under, a shot behind Rock.
Overnight leader Zander Lombard stayed in the mix, the South African recording a round of 68 to move to 11-under, but a second successive 73 saw Padraig Harrington continue to slip back after taking a first-day lead.
Jon Rahm, the 2017 Irish Open champion, moved into contention with a six-under 64, but the Spaniard is five shots off the searing pace set by the relentless Rock, who lost a play-off to Shane Lowry at the event in 2009.
“That’s the first chance I’ve had to do it,” Rock said of missing out on a 59. “It’s disappointing not to, but 60 is a great score. It’s my best score.
“I played rubbish so far this year, so just delighted to play better. It is a good opportunity, it’s an opportunity to get my season back on track, to try to qualify for The Open and maybe have a chance to win a tournament again, which would be lovely because it’s been a long while.”