European Tour

Aaron Rai leads at Irish Open, SA's Dean Burmester in the hunt

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Aaron Rai
Aaron Rai
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Aaron Rai will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club as he bids for a second European Tour title.

The Englishman, who earned his maiden victory at the Hong Kong Open in 2018, started the day in a two-way share of the lead alongside Australia's Maverick Antcliff but pulled clear courtesy of a three-under par 67 third round.

Rai is looking to complete a remarkable double, having won in wire-to-wire fashion in Hong Kong.

"It would be incredible (to win). Any title on the European Tour is fantastic, the Irish Open has an illustrious history, it's a huge event, it always has been," said Rai following his round on Saturday.

"I want to put that out of my mind going into tomorrow. There's still a lot of significance to it, but I'll hope to do the same kind of things and see where it puts us at the end of tomorrow."

Antcliff was one of a number of players who had to return to the golf course this morning to finish his second round, carding eagle on the final hole for a second round 65 before doing it all over again and carding a third round 68.

The 27-year-old sits just one shot behind Rai as he aims to win his first European Tour title in just his 19th start.

One stroke further back on six-under par are the trio of Dean Burmester, Jazz Janewattananond and Oscar Lengden.

Burmester acknowledged that Galgorm Castle Golf Club was one of the toughest courses he has played at.

"To be honest I haven't been looking (at the leaderboard) a lot," said the South African.

"I know it's a tough golf course, Antcliff was nine under at one stage - now he's seven under - that can happen quickly with double or triple bogeys if you hit it off-line. It's one of those golf courses, a US Open sort of mentality. You have to have a grinder mentality, grind your pars and when you have some birdie putts just take them and run."

Leading scores from the third round of the European Tour's Irish Open in Ballymena on Saturday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 70):

202 - Aaron Rai 65, 70, 67

203 - Maverick Antcliff (AUS) 70, 65, 68

204 Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 68, 70, 66; Dean Burmester (RSA) 65, 71, 68; Oscar Lengden (SWE) 67, 71, 66

205 - Lucas Herbert (AUS) 71, 67, 67; Toby Tree 66, 70, 69

206 - Justin Harding (RSA) 68, 69, 69; Jordan Smith 65, 71, 70; John Catlin (USA) 67, 70, 69

207 - Scott Hend (AUS) 68, 69, 70; Joakim Lagergren (SWE) 70, 66, 71; Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 67, 75, 65; Ewan Ferguson 70 67 70

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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