Aaron Rai takes slender lead into final round of Irish Open

Amateur James Sugrue remains the best of the Irish after a third round of 73 at Galgorm

Aaron Rai hits his second shot on the sixth hole during day three of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Ballymena. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Aaron Rai hits his second shot on the sixth hole during day three of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Ballymena. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

 

Aaron Rai takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after carding a third-round 67 at Galgorm Castle.

The 25-year-old, who claimed his maiden European Tour title in Hong Kong two years ago, produced a three-under third round to advance to eight under for the week in Ballymena.

Mallow amateur James Sugrue continues to lead the Irish contingent after a third round 73 which leaves him at two over par and in a tie for 25th going into the final day. The 2019 Amateur champion – who will compete at the US Masters in November before turning pro – began with bogeys at the first and third with a birdie sandwiched between them at the second.

However, that would turn out to be his only birdie of the day as further bogeys at the ninth and 10th saw him finish with a round of 73.

Jonathan Caldwell signed for the same score on day three to finish at four over while Colm Moriarty and Kilkenny amateur Mark Power could also only manage 73s to go into the final day at seven over and eight over respectively. Damien McGrane sits at nine over after a third round 75.

James Sugrue plays out of a bunker on the third. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
James Sugrue plays out of a bunker on the third. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Rai held a one-shot overnight lead but was joined at the top when Australian Maverick Antcliff completed his delayed second round with an eagle on the 18th.

The 27-year-old Antcliff then holed a putt from the fringe for a birdie at the first to go ahead as Rai bogeyed the opening hole.

However, Rai made three gains in five holes from the third and, with Antcliff bogeying the second and sixth, regained an advantage which he maintained with two birdies against a single dropped shot on the back nine.

“I’m pleased with the round overall,” said Rai. “It wasn’t easy, the course isn’t playing easy and it wasn’t easy conditions today.

“It’s always different going out in the final group and with the co-lead on day three, so it’s nice to play with that and play relatively freely and solid today.

“It would be incredible (to win). Any title on the European Tour is fantastic, the Irish Open has an illustrious history, it’s a huge event, it always has been.

“I want to put that out of my mind going into tomorrow. There’s still a lot of significance to it, but I’ll hope to do the same kind of things and see where it puts us at the end of tomorrow.”

Sweden’s Oscar Lengden, Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and South African Dean Burmester share third on six under par.

Collated third round scores and totals in the European Tour Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena, Northern Ireland (British unless stated, par 70):

202 Aaron Rai 65 70 67

203 Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 70 65 68

204 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 68 70 66, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 65 71 68, Oscar Lengden (Swe) 67 71 66

205 Lucas Herbert (Aus) 71 67 67, Toby Tree 66 70 69

206 Justin Harding (Rsa) 68 69 69, Jordan Smith 65 71 70, John Catlin (USA) 67 70 69

207 Scott Hend (Aus) 68 69 70, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 70 66 71, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 67 75 65, Ewan Ferguson 70 67 70

208 Laurie Canter 73 67 68

209 Jack Senior 70 73 66, Daan Huizing (Ned) 70 69 70

210 Richard Bland 72 67 71, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 71 69 70, Joost Luiten (Ned) 71 70 69

211 Marcus Armitage 69 71 71, Stephen Gallacher 67 74 70, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 73 72 66, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 74 71 66

212 Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 72 72 68, Craig Howie 73 71 68, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 74 70, Ben Stow 70 75 67, James Sugrue (a) (Irl) 67 72 73, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 70 72 70, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 68 70 74

213 Richie Ramsay 71 74 68, Calum Hill 70 70 73, Sean Crocker (USA) 72 67 74

214 David Law 69 69 76, Robert Rock 69 67 78, Clement Sordet (Fra) 70 70 74, Dave Coupland 72 69 73, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 72 71, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 71 74, Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl) 71 70 73, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 70 72 72, James Morrison 72 69 73

215 Adri Arnaus (Spa) 73 69 73, Dale Whitnell 71 72 72, Garrick Porteous 73 71 71, George Coetzee (Rsa) 71 73 71, Lars Van Meijel (Ned) 71 71 73

216 Steven Brown 71 74 71, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 73 69 74, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 75 70 71, Oliver Farr 70 70 76, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 73 72 71

217 Colm Moriarty (Irl) 75 69 73, Jake McLeod (Aus) 70 73 74, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 68 74 75, Richard McEvoy 72 72 73, Mathieu Fenasse (Fra) 72 72 73, Matthew Southgate 74 70 73, Martin Simonsen (Den) 68 75 74

218 Wil Besseling (Ned) 74 71 73, Max Schmitt (Ger) 73 72 73, Joel Stalter (Fra) 74 70 74, Darius Van Driel (Ned) 73 70 75, Mark Power (a) (Irl) 74 71 73

219 Damien McGrane (Irl) 70 74 75

220 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 72 72 76, Romain Wattel (Fra) 74 71 75, Scott Jamieson 69 76 75, Ross McGowan 73 71 76

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