Tyler top of the class to lead Northern Ireland Open
Teacher turned golfer Tyler Koivisto will take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Northern Ireland Open Supported by The R&A following a sublime eight under par round of 62 on Day Three.
The American leads on ten under par at Galgorm Castle Golf Club following a flawless third round and sits three strokes clear of Santiago Tarrio and Andrew Wilson, who share second place on seven under par.
Koivisto, who spent three years as a school teacher after graduating from college, carded six back nine birdies to take the lead in Northern Ireland and will tomorrow go in search of a life-changing victory.
“This is probably the biggest event I’ve been in contention for,” he said. “I’ve won a few small events here and there and then obviously in College. Every time you put yourself in this position, it’s better than not being there. We’ll see what we can do.
“I hit a lot more fairways today, which helps. That’s what you have to do out here. I made a lot of putts coming down the back nine there. It was just a fun day, kind of casual, but it ended up being a really good score.
“I figured something out on the range yesterday with my swing but it wasn’t anything technical. It was just hitting shots, trying to enjoy it and playing golf.
“The putting was good for sure. I rolled it really well and saw my lines straight away. I changed the strategy a bit on a few of the holes, just to get myself on the short grass. It’s just so key out here with the juicy rough, so I hit a few more fairways and rolled the rock really well.”
The 27-year-old gave up teaching two years ago to pursue a career as a golfer and is relishing the opportunity to play in Europe.
“I taught fourth grade for three years and took some time off the game,” he said. “In the last couple of years I’ve been playing some mini tour stuff back in the States and Monday qualifiers. I did Q-School last year in Austria, so that gave me the opportunity here. I’m just trying to grind away.
“They’re both very different. Sometimes teaching is a little more stressful and sometimes golf is, especially if you’re missing fairways.
“Last year was my first time in Europe and this is my first time in Northern Ireland too. Any time you get these opportunities, it’s nice to take advantage of them. I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, but we’ll see what we can do.”
England’s Wilson had earlier roared into contention with a six under par round of 64, including a three-hole eagle-birdie-birdie stretch. Tarrio is looking for his best Challenge Tour finish since his fourth place at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February.
Scandinavian duo Kristian Krogh Johannessen and Gudmundur Kristjansson share fourth place on six under par with Benjamin Rusch and Christopher Mivis.
One stroke further back in a tie for eighth is a group of six players including overnight leader Enrico Di Nitto, who posted a one over par 71 on Day Three, and England’s Richard Mansell who bounced back from an opening triple bogey to post a three under par 67.
The final round will begin at 7.50am local time on Sunday, with the final group of Koivisto, Tarrio and Wilson taking to the tee at 11.30am.