ISPS Handa World Invitational: Ferguson and Doherty stay ahead in Northern Ireland

Amanda Doherty’s previous best result on the LPGA Tour was a share of 14th place at the Los Angeles Open in April
Men:11 E Ferguson (Sco); -8 J Catlin (USA); -seven B Virto (Spa), J Senior (Eng), M Helligkilde (Den), C Syme (Sco); -6 R Mansell (Eng); -5 F Celli (a) (Ita), G Migliozzi (Ita), M Baldwin (Eng), J Rutherford (Eng). Others selected: -3 T McKibbin (NI); -2 D Carey (Ire); -1 J Smith (Eng). Missed Third Round Cup: +1 J Murphy (Ire); +3 R Bland (Eng); +4 Paul Dunne (Ireland).
Women:-12 A Doherty (USA); -11 G Hall (Eng), P Dog (Tpe); -ten M Stark (Sweden), EK Pedersen (Den), A Corpuz (USA); -9 L Grant (Sweden); -8 L Young (Eng), LA Pace (SA); Selected:-seven C Gainer (Eng), G Dryburgh (Sco), A Hewson (Eng); -5 L Maguire (Ire); -3 B Morgan (Wal); -2 K Henry (Sco). Missed Third Round Cup: Level R O’Toole (USA).

Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson and American rookie Amanda Doherty remained top of the men’s and women’s World Invitational events in Northern Ireland.

While many struggled in the heat, Ferguson kept his composure to extend his one-shot lead overnight to three by shooting a two-under par 68 to move to 11 under.

Ferguson leads Irish Open 2020 winner John Catlin by three strokes.

Doherty faltered at first but regrouped to lead England’s Georgia Hall and Taiwan’s Peiyun Chien in one fell swoop.

Like Ferguson, 24-year-old Atlanta golfer Doherty remained the leader through the first three days of the Northern Ireland event which is tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Round.

Doherty’s closing birdie earned her a 72-under par at Galgorm Castle after the women’s header changed hands several times on another day of unusually hot weather in the county of Antrim.

Hall’s teammate in Europe’s Solheim Cup, Denmark’s Emily Pedersen is part of a late group two that also includes Sweden’s Maja Stark and another American player, Allisen Corpuz.

Maguire steps back after 76 years

Another Swede, Linn Grant – who won the mixed Scandinavian event earlier this summer – looks a danger to the leaders after a 70 left her just three behind, but local favorite Leona Maguire’s chances of victory fade after a disappointing 76 saw her drop seven behind Doherty.

Three behind Doherty overnight, Maguire started well collecting shots in the first and third but two bogeys and a double bogey immediately followed and the Solheim Cup star was able to regain momentum.

Italian Filippo Celli, who won the silver medal for top amateur at last month’s Open Championship, took a header share helped by an eagle two in the fourth before falling back as the Scotsman Ferguson largely controlled the men’s debates on day three.

Aided by an impressive scramble, this year’s Qatar Masters winner Ferguson, 26, kept a bogey on his card over his first 13 holes to extend his one-shot advantage overnight to four as it went to 12 cents.

However, some indifferent ball strikes were eventually punished with successive drop shots on the 14th and 15th before a closing birdie at the par five 18th saw it clear at three.

Ferguson shot his second 61 of the season in Thursday’s first round at Galgorm before scoring a par 70 at the tournament’s other venue, Massereene, on Friday.

Ewen Ferguson plays a bunker shot at Galgorm Castle on Saturday
Ewen Ferguson picked up his first and only DP Tour victory when he triumphed at the Qatar Masters earlier this year

Catlin, who won the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle in 2020, moved up to second place as others worked hard in the heat thanks to his 66, but the biggest player of the day was Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde, who charged the field with a 64. that included eagles at second and last.

Helligkilde, the highest-ranked player on last year’s second-tier Challenge Tour, shares third place on seven under alongside Scotsman Connor Syme, Spaniard Borja Virto and 2019 men’s tournament winner L ‘Englishman Jack Senior, who shot a 65.

Northern Irish teenager Tom McKibbin boosted his chances of securing a full DP Tour card for next year after his 66 took him to a share of 16th on three under.

McKibbin, 19, is 16th in the Challenge Tour standings this season and with points also on offer for the second-tier circuit this week, a good finish on Sunday could go a long way towards securing his full card for 2023.

Cork’s John Murphy, the top Irishman after day two, was among those to miss the third-round men’s cut which fell to par after a 75 dropped him to one over.

The women’s field was also reduced to the top 35 and tied after the third round and last year’s Scottish Open winner Ryann O’Toole was among those whose tournament ended then that his level total turned out to be one too many.