South Africa's Van Rooyen leads Irish Open by 4

Rory Mc Ilroy talking to the press during the pro-am event prior to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club Donegal Ireland

And he did his hopes of a repeat performance the power of good with an excellent opening round, going blemish free on his back nine and closing with his sixth birdie of the round on the ninth thanks to a lengthy putt. It's just different holes, different conditions, different everything. "We saw that in the last tournament against Iceland but they are as good players as any, they believe in their coach and their system and should stick to it if they can". Wish I could birdie the two par fives but I didn't. "I just wish I could have birdied the two par fives".

Van Rooyen threatened to run away with the title during the first half of his third round, carding six birdies in an imperious display over the lovely links of Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal.

New Zealand's Fox, son of All Blacks World Cup-winning flyhalf Grant, sank three birdies on the back nine to card a three-under-par 69 and take the clubhouse lead at eight under. There's 18 holes left to navigate and that's going to be my job tomorrow.

"As good a start as I can have, really, and hopefully three more rounds and if I can sneak in that top five like a year ago and get an Open spot, that would be great". "But you know, that's 24 hours from now", said the South African.

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"I've taken the golf course on the last three days and it seemed to work".

"I wasn't very much aware of my score or the situation. If I had 100 putts every week I played and hit the ball halfway decent, I'd win every week". "I'm really disappointed. What can you do?"

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.

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