Donaldson goes in front at Portrush
Antrim, Northern Ireland (Sports Network) - Jamie Donaldson posted a 3-under 69 on Saturday to move atop the leaderboard after the third round of the Irish Open.
Donaldson braved rainy conditions Saturday at Royal Portrush to finish at 12- under 204. He is one stroke clear in search of his first European Tour victory in 254 starts.
"If you're not nervous, you're not up for it," Donaldson said. "The more you're up here, the more you're used to it. There's another day to go. We're not getting ahead of ourselves. It's one shot at a time tomorrow."
Anthony Wall shot a 5-under 67 and is alone in second at minus-11.
The Irish charge is led by three-time major winner Padraig Harrington. He managed an even-par 72 and is tied for third place with Mark Foster, who shot a 1-over 73, at 10-under 206.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy carded a 1-under 71 and last year's U.S. Open winner moved into a tie for 11th at 6-under par.
The other members of the major-winning, Northern Ireland trio are in the mix.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, had a 1-over 73 and is tied for 30th at minus-4. Darren Clarke, the reigning British Open winner, also shot a 73 and is part of a group in 35th at 3-under 213.
It was a disastrous Saturday for second-round leader Gregory Bourdy. The Frenchman imploded in round three with an 8-over 80 and fell into the group at 4-under par.
Everyone is chasing the only player in the field with three rounds in the 60s.
Donaldson got off to a rough start on Saturday with a bogey at the first, but he atoned for the error in a big way at the par-5 second. He rolled in a 10- foot eagle putt and tied for the lead with a 12-footer for birdie at the fifth.
"I played a lot of good shots early on," said Donaldson. "I holed a good few putts early to keep momentum going and it continued after that."
After mistakes by fellow competitors, Donaldson found himself alone in the lead. He padded his cushion with a 25-foot birdie putt at the sixth, but trouble loomed. Donaldson bogeyed the seventh for the second time this week, then reclaimed his 2-shot lead with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 ninth.
Donaldson fell into a tie for the lead after the turn. Wall and Bourdy crept up the leaderboard, then Donaldson knocked his second through the green at the 12th. Donaldson missed his 20-foot par save and shared first at 11-under par.
The Welshman took his lead back after a beautiful approach to the 16th. He ran home his 10-foot birdie putt to go one ahead and he stayed there thanks to pars at the last two holes.
Paul Waring managed a 1-over 73 and is fifth at minus-9.
Thorbjorn Olesen fired a 6-under 66 and rocketed up 55 places on the leaderboard into a tie for sixth. Craig Lee (67), Fabrizio Zanotti (68) and Rafa Cabrera-Bello (70) joined Olesen at 8-under 208.
NOTES: Donaldson has three European Challenge Tour wins...He held the 54-hole lead at last year's European Masters but tied for third...Defending champion Simon Dyson posted a 1-under 71 and is tied for 11th at 6-under par.
06/30 13:28:35 ET