Niall Horan’s golfing festival set for 3-way conclusion: World Invitational final round preview

Galgorm Castle set for exciting finale to men’s, women’s and disabled events in the groundbreaking tournament.

Why have just the one story line on a Sunday when you could have three?

The ISPS Handa World Invitational first took place back in 2019, featuring a men's tournament co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and a women's event that boasted a decent field, but went unsanctioned by any tour.

This year the men's event graduated to the European Tour, the women's event is sanctioned by both the LPGA and LET, and the European Tour is also hosting the ISPS World Disability Invitational.

Three for the price of one and all inspired by Niall Horan's determination to see golf embrace everyone - his Modest! Golf management group run the event.

"I just really love the sport," he said last year, when it was confirmed the event would become both three-way and multi-sanctioned. "I'm totally mad for it and I genuinely love all types of golf. Women's golf, men's golf, college golf.

"If someone is on TV swinging a golf club, I'm happy to watch. I think there'll always be a market there for lunatics like me who will just happily sit there and watch it."

This Sunday that lunatic's day will begin watching Brendan Lawlor's bid to win the disabled event - the Irishman takes a four stroke lead into the final round.

Later the men's and women's events will hurtle to a conclusion.

Let's take a closer look at the possibilities.

Men's event

Two Englishmen have set the pace.

Jordan Smith leads David Horsey by one on 15-under-par 195 with unheralded Kiwi Daniel Hillier alone in third on 11-under, one ahead of Darius Van Driel and Masahiro Kawamura.

It's almost four years since Smith won his first title on tour and six years since Horsey lifted his fourth win.

"I've done it before so I can do it again, that's one way of looking at it," Smith insisted after clinching his narrow advantage.

"I've been playing well and I'm feeling good, the swing is feeling good, so we'll see how it goes.

"Today we didn't do too much wrong at all, the putter saved me quite a few times so hopefully it can do that tomorrow if needed to.

"I made some changes at the end of last year. There's been a lot of work and a lot of getting used to it so it's nice to see it paying off."

Horsey came away from his third round feeling more relieved than anything.

"I didn't play great, to be honest," he said. "Didn't hit it in the fairway enough on the back nine but holed some nice putts, and that's what you've got to do. At the end of the day it's all about scoring and I managed to post a good one today.

"This golf course is quite tricky. There was a bit of breeze out there today, but there's plenty of birdies out there, so hopefully we can continue it tomorrow."

The books rate Smith the 5/6 favourite, Horsey 5/2 and Hillier 16/1.

Is there any value further down the leaderboard, should the leading trio trip up? Young Swede Vincent Norrman has played only four times on the European Tour since turning pro and landed three top 15 finishes.

He's closed two of his last three events with 66s and also opened last week's Cazoo Open with a 64. A repeat of that firepower could see him scare the leaders. He's 28/1 with Paddy Power paying three places.

Women's event

There's a three-way tie at the top of the 54 hole leaderboard.

Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn, plus the two Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Emma Talley, hold a one shot advantage over Korea's Chella Choi on 13-under with teenage prodigy Atthaya Thitikul another two blows back.

Talley found herself in a strange third round situation: for the first time she was playing in the same group as her husband, who is Kupcho's caddie.

"It was weird," she said. "I honestly didn't like it. Now I know what to expect so I feel a lot better about doing it tomorrow. Today honestly threw me off.

Kupcho, winner of the 2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur was in more positive mode.

"I feel good," she said. "My putting stroke was a little off today, so I have just got to get that figured out and we will see what happens.

"Tomorrow I think I'm just going to stay in it and focus on my own game, come with the score that I want to shoot instead of playing against someone else. I can't control what everyone else is doing, so I have just got to go out and play my own game."

Kupcho is the 9/4 favourite heading into the final round, with Anannarukarn 5/2, Talley 4/1 and Thitikul 10/1.

Thitikul has played in each of the last five weeks and is yet to finish outside the top five - she also won the first of those starts. She's clearly riding a wave and has to be a big threat.

She's a three-time winner on the LET, will be hungry to grab this huge opportunity to graduate to the LPGA, and she has recent experience of going low on Sundays.

She shot a 65 to clinch that win five weeks ago and repeated that score to land a top five in last week's Evian Championship.

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