Irish Open: Rory McIlroy bemoans missed first-round putts

Ryan Fox plays a shot during his excellent first round at the County Donegal links on Thursday

Former Masters champion Danny Willett is five shots off the pace after recovering from a poor start with the aid of four birdies in a row on the back nine, with Scotland's Russell Knox a shot further back on eight under.

Van Rooyen's closest pursuers are first round leader Ryan Fox of New Zealand - the son of All Black flyhalf great Grant Fox was joint fourth past year - and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren, who has returned to form after missing several cuts since landing his maiden tour win in the Sicilian Open in May.

Oisin Kelly reports from the course...

"I'm just sort of stuck in neutral this week and hopefully can finish off with a good one tomorrow", McIlroy said. "If I had 100 putts every week I played and hit the ball halfway decent, I'd win every week".

"The mindset was just keep going", Johannesburg-born Van Rooyen said.

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"I was surprised, the bookies don't normally get it wrong, but to put me out there at 66-1 on a links golf course was unusual on their part, at home in my home country".

"It maybe wasn't quite as good the last three days, but I putted a lot better today".

"I've been lucky, I guess we've taken the theory that bogeys aren't a bad score. Someone is probably going to find it for you and thankfully that's happened for me the last couple of days".

Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, the other member of the three-way share for top spot after Friday's second round, struggled to a one-over 73 and is now tied for sixth, along with countryman Raphael Jacquelin and England's Lee Westwood.

But the third round belonged to one man and one man only, with Van Rooyen now set to take that four shot lead into final round as the 28-year-old chases his maiden European Tour victory in just his 34th appearance.

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