ON a day when all eyes were on the all-England shoot-out at the top of the Brabazon Trophy, one young Irishman came in under the radar.
Ireland brought a strong and confident team to Hartlepool but Cormac Sharvin surprised himself by finishing the third day as joint leader at Seaton Carew.
While Ryan Evans and Ben Stow were scrapping their way to two-over-par 75s in the final group yesterday, Sharvin was closing the gap at the top quietly and effectively.
“I did not honestly think seven under would be leading the tournament,” said the 21-year-old who is a student at Stirling Univesity in Scotland.
“I’m surprised to be one of the leaders.
“I was expecting the winner to be needing to be something like 16 under.
“I think I’m a wee bit lucky that the guys who went out last both shot two over.”
While the leaders were faltering around the testing links, Sharvin made his move with seven birdies in his 70, five coming in a back nine of three-under 35.
“I played OK – I struggled for the first 10 holes and then started to play a bit better on the way in,” he said.
“I holed a few putts on the way back so I suppose 70 was a good score.”
Sharvin has been the model of consistency – while fellow leaders Evans and Stow have been a bit up and down, the 21-year-old, who plays out of Northern Irish club Ardglass, has shot 70-72-70.
He likes Seaton Carew too which helps and he proved that with birdies at two very testing holes – the 16th and 17th.
Birdies at the penultimate hole with its tricky green are rare to say the least.
“It’s quite a quirky course,” said the Irishman who will tee off in the final group today at 11.38am with Evans. “It’s a course you either like or you don’t.
“I find it all right.
“I hit a driver and played to about six feet at the 16th and then on the 17th I hit a three-iron off the tee and then a nine iron again to about six feet for my birdie.”
He added: “I’ve been playing pretty good. I did well at the British Amateur at Portrush last week, so I fancy my chances.
“But Ryan and Ben are both great players so I’m going to have to play great to win.
“I’ll see how it goes.”
The leading trio share the lead on seven-under-par 212, just a stroke ahead of a group of six including three Scots, another Irishman and two English players while four more lie in wait a further shot back on 214.