By Will Downing
Early progress for Leona Maguire and Stephane Meadow was lost as the back nine bit the Irish on day three of the women’s Olympic golf competition at Rio 2016.
Maguire shot a three-over par round of 74 to fall to level par for the tournament, while Meadow hit a level-par 71 to remain one-over – yet both were on course to do much better.
Starting the day three-under and within seven shots of the halfway leader Park Inbee of South Korea, Maguire - currently the number-one ranked amateur in the world - had a solid front nine, with birdies at 2 and 5, and pars otherwise all the way round to put her on five under par.
But, heading for a 69, she then came unstuck with five bogeys in her final seven holes, starting with a hat-trick of dropped shots at 12 13 and 14.
Having parred the 15th to try and settle her form, she went on to drop further shots at 16 and 18, slipping from 11th place at one stage to a tie for 24th heading towards the end of the round.
Maguire’s playing partner, world number one Lydia Ko, did manage to storm into medal contention with the aid of the day's second hole-in-one - China's Xiya Lun having done so earlier.
Meanwhile, Meadow was one of the top 15 performers on day three, despite her round not breaking par overall.
24-year-old Meadow, from Jordanstown and a third-placer at the US Women’s open two years ago, bogeyed her opening hole, but rallied spectacularly, birdieing four holes in a row from the fourth to seventh, leaping from two-over to two-under, eight shots behind the lead, and suddenly looking like she may be in a position to attempt a charge for a high position.
That was halted almost immediately at the eighth with a double bogey to send her back down the field once more, and into red figures - and things worsened with bogeys at 12 and 13.
A birdie at 15 helped her save par for the round and she lies one over par heading into the final day.
Park was still in the lead on 11 under par, two shots clear of Ko and Gerina Piller, at the close of play.