Stuart Grehan and Tim Rice are the only Irishmen left standing at the PGA EuroPro Tour’s The Q Hotels Collection Championship going into the final round, but both have a mountain to climb in Hexham.
Grehan added a one-under 71 to his opening 70 to sit in a share of 20th after round two at three-under-par, with Rice a further shot back at two-under as he backed up his own opening 70 with a level-par 72 on day two at Slaley Hall Hotel.
Both will have to produce something memorable if they are to pick up the win, however, as Northamptonshire’s Benjamin Jones leads the way by two at 11-under-par after rounds of 66 and 67.
Tullamore’s Grehan is looking to back up last week’s fifth-placed finish at last week’s Worcestershire Masters with another big finish this week, and a big final round would get him that after he mixed four birdies with three bogeys in his second round.
Limerick man Rice has a recent top-10 on his record, at the PDC Championship, and he will hope to improve on a round that saw him pick up an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys in his first 14 holes, before bogeys at 15 and 18 dropped him back to two-under.
Jones signed for six birdies and a bogey in his 67 to sit as the only player in double-figures heading into day three, two strokes clear of Wath’s Nicholas Poppleton, with Balmore’s Chris Maclean third at eight-under-par after a 70.
Whitehead’s John-Ross Galbraith was left to rue three bogeys in his final five holes in a three-over 75 at Slaley Hall that saw him miss the level-par cut line by four shots at four-over-par for the week.
Dundalk’s Daniel Mulligan added a 73 on day two to finish his week at five-over-par, while Cork’s John Hickey recorded a 75 to sit eight-over alongside Owen Crooks, who concluded his tournament with a 76.