US Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler ended his chances of winning a second golf event event in succession when he recorded eights over the closing two holes on day three of the Irish Open at Royal County Down.
Fowler put two balls ou -of bounds, lost a third in bushes and played the 17th and 18th holes in seven over par en route to an eventual five-over 76.
There had been joy for the world No.9 and the highest ranked player left in the field, when Fowler holed a chip shot for eagle at the par-four 16th.
So Fowler ended his round with scores of 2, 8, 8 – playing the last three holes in five over par.
A fortnight ago Fowler needed just 11 shots over the closing four holes to force his way into a play-off at TPC Sawgrass en route to victory at the fourth extra hole.
Fowler now heads to the final round of the Irish Open sharing 36th place and a dozen shots from the lead.
Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen, looking to end a six-year victory drought, also came unstuck over the closing two holes to let slip a four-stroke cushion in a round of a four-under-par 67 and see his lead cut to just two shots at seven under.
Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer posted the best round of the day with a six-under 65 to be tied in second place with Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello (69).
The 40-year old Kjeldsen’s last victory was in 2009 when he secured a third Tour title in winning the Andalucia Open in Spain.
Kjeldsen had been six under par for his round, including three birdies in succession from the 11th hole, before his closing pair of bogeys.
“It surprised me somewhat that it seemed such easy going for the first 13 holes on what was another tough day,” he said.
“Eventually the golf course is going to get you.
“I didn’t hit a great tee on 17 and then hit two good putts on 17 and 18 but they didn’t drop but that’s part of the deal as you do your bit and they drop and other times they don’t.”
Biggest disappointment on day three was former Irish Open winner Padraig Harrington who was striving to become only the second Irish-born player in 66 years to win two Irish Open titles.
Harrington had been well in contention at three under par but a score of 78 sent him back to a share of 36th place, joining Fowler and 11 others at five over.