Andrew Thorpe struck a six under par 65 to lead the Castle Dargan PGA EuroPro Tour event by one stroke at eight under par ahead of Fridayâ€™s final round in Ireland.
Thorpe (Peterborough Milton) began the day at two under par but for the first time in his career he will go into the final round with a one shot lead over Ian Keenan and Justin Evans after carding five birdies and an eagle in his second round in Sligo.
â€œI havenâ€™t held an overnight lead as a professional but itâ€™s not something that Iâ€™m daunted by,â€ said Thorpe. â€œIf I do the same things I have been then I will be in with a great chance tomorrow.â€
Thorpe started off on the ninth hole with a birdie and made that two at the tenth, moving to the front nine at three under for the day. A fourth birdie at the third was wiped out immediately but his round had a strong finish thanks to an eagle at the sixth â€“ as he did in the opening round â€“ followed by his fifth and final birdie of the day at the seventh.
â€œIt was good to get off to a good start,â€ said the 23 year-old. â€œI finished with a double bogey yesterday so to kick-off with two birdies gave me some momentum to build on straight away. The eagle at the sixth was a nice boost to finish with â€“ itâ€™s playing downwind so itâ€™s definitely a hole you can capitalise on and Iâ€™m glad I did.â€
Overnight leader Keenan (Royal Liverpool) was unable to match his opening round 65 in his second round, carding three birdies and two bogeys in his 70 to sit in a tie for second. Joining Keenan one stroke behind Thorpe is Justin Evans, who carded a fine 66. Beginning at the first, Evans (Wentworth Club) was level through the first four holes before picking up six birdies in eight holes to move to six under â€“ with a bogey at 17 foiling his chances of joining Thorpe at eight under.
Zack Saltman (Aegon) matched Evansâ€™ round to climb into contention at six under par â€“ alongside his older brother Elliot. Starting with five pars, Zack eagled the sixth and tenth holes to shoot up the leader board. Both eagles were followed by bogeys, but three birdies from the 13th means he is hopeful of a good showing in the final round. It could be a great day for the Saltman family as Elliot (Aegon) followed an opening four under par round with a two-under par 69, also eagling the tenth. Graeme Clark and James Freeman join the Scottish brothers in a four-way tie for fourth, with Clark (Doncaster) shooting a round of 68 and Freeman (Worksop GC) one under for the day at 70.
That quartet sit one shot clear of five players at five under â€“ Irish pair Brian McElhinney (Team Ireland) and Paul Oâ€™Hanlon (Curragh), English duo James Busby (The Shropshire) and Nicky Harris (Whitefield GC) and Scotsman Scott Henry (The Carrick on Loch Lomond).
Fifty-eight players made the cut at three-over par for the final round in Castle Dargan â€“ live scoring from the final round is available at via the Score Updates link, where you can find the full leader board from the opening two rounds of the tournament.