A third-round three-under 69 – his second of the week – sees Conor Purcell primed for a strong finish at the Abu Dhabi Challenge while Tom Lewis enjoys a two-stroke lead at the 54-hole mark.
A second-round 70 was a solid effort for the Portmarnock professional, but with the leading duo both going low, any hopes of a first Challenge Tour victory were slim at best, but after a strong start to the season, every point will count in the race for promotion to the DP World Tour.
A bogey at the first was certainly not the start he was looking for, but the response was admirable as he’d birdie the next, adding two more at five and eight to make the turn at -2.
He’d make eight straight pars on the back nine before finishing the round with another birdie at the par-5 18th to end the day as he began in a tie for 14th, just one stroke shy of the top 10.
Ruaidhri McGee, Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell all carded matching level-par 72s, meaning McGee and Kearney remain locked at -1 and tied for 58th, while Caldwell, who was forced to wait until the penultimate group had finished in Friday’s second round to learn if he’d play at the weekend, slips six places to a tie for 66th.
England’s Tom Lewis has taken control at the head of proceedings as his third-round 68 backed opening efforts of 64 and 67 to see the two-time DP World Tour winner reach the clubhouse at -17, two clear of 36-hole leader and fellow countryman Joshua Greenville-Wood.
A bogey at the sixth was the only blemish on Lewis’ card, with birdies coming at the first, third, eighth, 13th and 18th holes, while Greenville-Wood, who enjoyed a one-stroke advantage teeing off, struggled in the early stages.
Chasing a first ever professional victory, the 25-year-old bogeyed two of the first four, and though he’d stage a rally that included three birdies in a row on the back nine, another late bogey meant he card a one-under 71 to end the day two strokes behind Lewis and one ahead of the trio of Wilco Nienaber, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez and Ricardo Gouveia.
“I’m pleased with my round today,” Lewis said. “I haven’t played three rounds of golf in a long time, so it’s nice to get out here and finish strong today.
“There’s always a period of your round that’s going to be a bit of a struggle. I definitely had that, and I felt a bit of pressure out there from myself, but I think it’s important for me to continue with what I’m doing tomorrow.”
“The wind swirled a lot today,” he added. “I felt everything was into the breeze all the time. I had a few yardages that I didn’t feel too comfortable with, so I had to manufacture a few distances and I managed my game well. The weather is very hot, but it’s great to be here and I’m pleased with what I did today.
“I holed some good putts, missed a couple, but tomorrow’s going to be another good day hopefully. I’m going to make some mistakes but hopefully I can make some birdies too.
“It helps having a two shot lead but it can turn around in one hole. I’m looking to go out and be under par on the front nine and be under par on the back nine, because if that doesn’t do the job, I’ll still be happy with what I’ve done this week.”
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