Open champion Darren Clarke shot 71 for four under at the Irish Open today, but compatriots Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy had their best days of the week.
McDowell shot 66 for 10 under, while McIlroy had a hat-trick of birdies from the eighth to be on the same mark.
They were only joint 11th, however, in the soft conditions.
Sweden's Mikael Lundberg and Welshman Jamie Donaldson continue to lead the field.
Lundberg, whose two European Tour wins both came in Russia, completed a brilliant front-nine 29 by two-putting the long ninth.
He then holed a seven-footer on the 478-yard 10th – another par five – to move two clear of Donaldson and Anthony Wall, who birdied the first from five feet.
Donaldson responded superbly. He two-putted the long second, added another birdie on the 174-yard next and when a curling 25-footer went in on the fourth he was one ahead again.
England’s Ross Fisher, winner two years ago, was up into second and eight under for the day like Lundberg – and that was putting him on course for a place in The Open off a minimum money list ending today.
Thai Thongchai Jaidee looked certain to get the first of the two Open spots on offer after a 66 took him to nine under.
Lundberg moved back alongside Donaldson with yet another birdie at the 391-yard 15th - and it was almost an eagle. His approach spun back and lipped out, stopping only inches away.
They were 15 under, two ahead of England’s Paul Waring, playing his first event for over a year following wrist surgery. He was four under for the first eight.