Todd Clements will take a commanding five-stroke lead into the final round of the Irish Challenge after battling tough conditions to post a two under par round of 70 on day three at The K Club.
The Englishman carried a two-stroke advantage into day three and strategically enhanced that lead throughout the afternoon to reach 15 under par, five ahead of Irishman Gary Hurley who also impressed with a three under 69 to move into second place on ten under par.
The 25-year-old’s single birdie on the front nine meant he made the turn at one under before a pair of birdies and a single bogey coming in put him in pole position ahead of the final round, where he will aim to pick up his maiden European Challenge Tour title.
“I’ve been working hard mentally and I felt like I’ve kept my cool quite well,” he said. “I’m delighted with how I’m playing, some really solid stuff in tough conditions and I feel like it paid dividends.
“I think I’ve made some good changes. My support team around me have been really good, really supportive and I’m so thankful for that. My golf coach has really helped, all of them, they’ve played a part. I think last week really helped with my self-belief. I didn’t have my best stuff but got a good result and came here confident.
“I’ve put the time in to try and improve my game, because I felt like I needed it. I took a good step in the right direction. There are a lot of good guys out here and I’ve just been getting my head down, doing what I can control and focus on, and it’s been a really good six months or so.”
Hurley, as well as occupying second spot, leads the race for the Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy, awarded to the leading Irishman, however he will face competition from John Murphy who is third on nine under par. The winner of the award, named after the two-time Ryder Cup player, will receive an invite to next year’s Horizon Irish Open.
French duo David Ravetto and Gary Stal share fourth place with Italy’s Stefano Mazzoli on eight under par, with a group of six players, including last week’s winner Alejandro del Rey, a shot further back in a tie for seventh.
The 2022 Irish Challenge will come to a close on Sunday, with Clements, Hurley and Murphy comprising the final group at 11:30am local time.