Hoey heads Northern Irish charge at celeb-studded links event

    Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey plays his second shot to the 18th green at the Carnoustie Golf Links.

    Story highlights

    • Northerhn Irish golfer Michael Hoey moves three shots clear at Alfred Dunhill Links
    • World No. 271 cards his third successive 66 in European Tour event in Scotland
    • Compatriot Graeme McDowell is second going into Sunday's final round
    • Fellow countryman Rory McIlroy is also in contention tied for fourth
    Northern Ireland's incredible golfing year continued on Saturday as Michael Hoey remained ahead of his more heralded compatriots at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
    The 32-year-old will take a three-shot lead from 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell as he seeks the biggest win of his career, and third European Tour title overall in the pro-am event played over three seaside courses.
    Ranked 271st in the world, he completed his third successive round of 66, this time at the tough Carnoustie course, to be on 18-under-par 198 and in pole position for the $785,000 first prize.
    The joint halfway leader fired five birdies and an eagle, while compatriot McDowell carded 67 at St. Andrews to be one shot clear of 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
    "Michael has always been a very talented player," McDowell said. "He's a great ball-striker, has a great swing. He has always had the talent and won the British Amateur in 2001 before playing on a winning Walker Cup side.
    "It's a fine line between guys who go on to become the best in the world and guys who become journeymen pros. And you wouldn't say Michael is a journeyman, he's popped up twice and won on tour, and won well each time."
    South Africa's Oosthuizen shot 69 at St. Andrews to be one ahead of Northern Ireland's reigning U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.
    World No. 3 McIlroy carded 66, also at the home of golf, to be tied for fourth with a group of seven players including world No. 1 Luke Donald and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
    Donald fired a flawless nine-birdie round of 63 to tie McIlroy's 2010 course record at St. Andrews, as did Simon Dyson, with both Englishmen in final-day contention five shots behind Hoey.
    Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was tied for 11th after a 66 at St. Andrews, while world No. 2 Lee Westwood was another shot back on 205 after a 68 at the same course.
    Northern Ireland's current British Open champion Darren Clarke this week admitted he is struggling for motivation following his breakthrough major triumph in July, and that languor continued as he carded 70 at St. Andrews to be 19 shots off Hoey's pace.
    Hoey was also in the running in the pro-am section, as he and U.S. businessman William Farish Jr. were a shot behind England's Nick Dougherty and UK broadcaster Chris Evans.
    Dyson, paired with former chart-topping pop star Huey Lewis, was third.
    Actor Hugh Grant was tied for 56th, while Hollywood heavyweight Michael Douglas was joint 100th as he played with veteran eight-time European No. 1 Colin Montgomerie. The 2010 Ryder Cup-winning captain was 18th in the main event after a 66.