Irish Open: Aaron Rai one clear of Maverick Antcliff going into final round

Aaron Rai
Aaron Rai's only European Tour win came at the Hong Kong Open in 2018
Irish Open second-round leaderboard
-8 A Rai (Eng); -7 M Antcliff (Aus); -6 D Burmester (SA), O Lengden (Swe), J Wattananond (Tha); -5 L Herbert (Aus), T Tree (Eng); -4 J Smith (Eng), J Catlin (US), J Harding (SA)
Selected others: -3 S Hend (Aus): +1 S Gallacher (Scot); +2 J Sugrue (AM) (Ire) +3 R Ramsey (Sco); +4 J Caldwell (NI) R Rock (Eng); +5 G Coetzee (SA), +7 C Moriarty (Ire); +8 M Power (Ire) am; +9 D McGrane (Ire)

Aaron Rai fired a third-round 67 to edge in front of Maverick Antcliff in the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle.

Englishman Rai and Antcliff of Australia started the round in a share of the lead on five under.

Rai moved to eight under to lie one ahead of Antcliff with a group of three players two back.

Amateur James Sugrue is the best of the Irish players on two over, but Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington missed the cut in a disappointing home challenge.

The fate of Open champion Lowry and three-time major winner Harrington was confirmed on Saturday morning, when the second round was completed because of a weather delay on Friday.

Sugrue lies in a tie for 25th with Clandeboye player Jonathan Caldwell four over, Colm Moriarty seven over, amateur Mark Power a further shot back - all after carding three-over 73s - and Damien McGrane (75) on nine over.

Rai holds firm to stay in front

Rai and Antcliff were joined in Saturday's final group by Robert Rock, who struggled to a 78 to end his title hopes.

The lead changed hands many times as the sun shone in Galgorm, with playing conditions much better than the cold and wind of Friday.

Rai posted five birdies and two bogeys in a confident display, while Antcliff's short game came to the rescue in the final holes as the 27-year-old stayed in the hunt for a first European Tour title.

Maverick Antcliff
Maverick Antcliff has won three times on the China Tour

A second tour title beckons for 25-year-old Rai but the chasing pack includes Dean Burmester, Jazz Janewattananond and Oscar Lengden just two behind.

Toby Tree and Lucas Herbert are on five under par, with Jordan Smith, John Catlin and Justin Harding four off the pace.

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