|-9 R Rock (Eng); -7 I Poulter (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng), W Ormsby (Aus), M Kinhult (Swe); -5 V Dubuisson (Fra), A Arnaus (Spa), A Sullivan (Eng), G Green (Mal). Selected others: -3 P Harrington (Ire), N Colsaerts (Bel); E M Fitzpatrick (Eng).|
Ian Poulter said Saturday’s third round of the Scottish Open was the “toughest” he has seen “in 21 years” after ending two shots adrift of leader Robert Rock.
Rain and wind lashed Renaissance Club in East Lothian for all of the round.
Poulter, who bogeyed the last in a two-over 73, is alongside Tommy Fleetwood on seven under, while Rock finished his one-over-par round in near darkness.
Andy Sullivan of England is five under with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, Marc Warren and Grant Forrest on four under.
Poulter, who began the penultimate round within two strokes of the lead, was two under for his first 11 holes but dropped four shots in the last seven.
“It was a shame towards the end it just got unmanageable really, but on the front nine I played some great golf,” he said.
Fleetwood, meanwhile, said he “loved every minute” after carding a 69 that saw him set the clubhouse lead.
“It’s golf isn’t it? Let’s face it, with the money we play for these days it does not do any harm. I’d play in it every day if that’s what it took.
“It was pretty relentless. The rain didn’t stop for half a second and just got progressively worse and windy throughout the day.
“The golf shots I was hitting, you have to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. My coach walked in after nine holes so I’ll have to debrief him.”
After two placid days, the wild weather provided a compelling test, with parts of the course left waterlogged by the downpours. overnight leader Lucas Herbert slumped six shots off the pace after a 79.
Rock, who declined to speak to reporters after his round, finished in near darkness and considered not continuing on the par-three 17th as he struggled to see the pin, but ended with successive pars.
MacIntyre, the European Tour’s rookie of the year last year, admitted he has struggled to recapture that form during a disappointing and disrupted second season.
“When I came back on the Tour I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and wasn’t enjoying it,” the 24-year-old Scot said after his 68.
“But now I’ve turned a corner and I’m seeing positive signs in my golf.”