Hurley improves as Wallace leads in Kenya
 Matt Wallace. Picture: Getty Images

Matt Wallace. Picture: Getty Images

Only Gary Hurley could make a positive move on a disappointing day for the Irish in the Barclays Kenya Open in Nairobi.

The West Waterford golfer struggled on the front nine, going out in three over 39 before storming home in five-under 31 for a 70 that helped him climb four spots to tied 39th on three-under par.

He's nine shots behind England's Matt Wallace, who shot 67 to lead on 12-under-par from Frenchman Adrien Saddier and England's Aaron Rai. 

Cormac Sharvin his just eight behind on four-under after he made an eagle, two birdies and seven bogeys in a three-over 74.

Michael Hoey also had a tough day, mixing three birdies with four bogeys in a 72 to slip 12 places down the leaderboard to tied 48th.

Wallace, 26, was unstoppable on the Alps Tour last year, winning on five successive appearances before sealing a dominant top spot in the Order of Merit by also triumphing at the Grand Final.

Top ten finishes on the Challenge Tour in Spain and Italy last season also suggested he was ready to compete at this level and he was understandably delighted with his day’s work at Muthaiga Golf Club as he goes in search of the biggest victory of his young career.

“I played really nicely today,” he said. “Not actually as well as the last two days, but I gave myself a lot of chances today and managed to get through a scruffy patch in the middle and finish nicely again.

“I birdied the last two holes and did the same yesterday – I had a really nice yardage into 17 and decided to really attack it and stuffed it in there really close and 18 is always a really good birdie chance.

“I really approached today the same as all week, I was obviously four shots behind Adrien so I was trying to shoot as low as I could and post a good score, but I didn’t think I’d be leading – I’m there though, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“I’m hoping to learn from this experience because this is definitely the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of, especially the last few holes there, with a lot of people coming down. They really appreciate the good shots, so hopefully, I can give them something to cheer again tomorrow.

“I’ve got a local caddie on the bag this week who’s been doing the job here for 26 years – as long as I’ve been living! I talk to him a lot because I find if I go quiet, I lose confidence.

“He’s been very good so far because obviously, he knows the course very, very well – there have been a few club decisions where I’ve gone ‘really?’ and it’s turned out perfect, so he knows his stuff, and he knows my game well, given we’ve only been together for three or four days.

“Last year’s success was massive for me. I try to dumb it down as much as possible and say it’s just golf, and it is, but hopefully I can take the performances from last year into tomorrow.

“Jordan Smith showed last year how possible it is to move quickly to the top of the Challenge Tour from the satellite tours. I play with guys on the European Tour, Callum Shinkwin in particular, a lot and I think if I can compete with him, I know I can do it out here too.”

Three bogeys on the front nine cost France’s Saddier his lead while Englishman Rai birdied three of his final four holes for a round of 69 and a share of second place.

Welshman Rhys Davies, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour, momentarily topped the leaderboard before a scrappy back nine left him one shot further back on ten under par.

Also well within striking distance going into the final day are South Africans Jaco Ahlers and Louis De Jager and Sweden’s Jens Dantorp, all of whom share fifth place on nine under par, just three behind Wallace.

Scores after round 3:

201 M Wallace (Eng) 68 66 67, 

202 A Rai (Eng) 67 66 69, A Saddier (Fra) 68 62 72, 

203 R Davies (Wal) 65 67 71, 

204 J Dantorp (Swe) 65 72 67, J Ahlers (RSA) 64 72 68, L De Jager (RSA) 68 70 66, 

205 J Kruyswijk (RSA) 66 68 71, S Fernandez (Esp) 66 70 69, B Robinson (Eng) 67 70 68, O Wilson (Eng) 67 69 69, 

206 M Laskey (Wal) 70 69 67, J Kunzenbacher (Ger) 68 69 69, M Delpodio (Ita) 69 66 71, R Santos (Por) 70 68 68, 

207 M Kinhult (Swe) 72 67 68, A Meronk (Pol) 67 69 71, D Indiza Anyonyi (Ken) 72 66 69, F Laporta (Ita) 68 69 70, W Besseling (Ned) 67 74 66, M Lundberg (Swe) 72 68 67, D Van Driel (Ned) 70 68 69, M Baldwin (Eng) 67 69 71, 

208 L Gagli (Ita) 67 69 72, A Wennstam (Swe) 66 74 68, C Doak (Sco) 66 70 72, O Lindell (Fin) 73 65 70, B Virto (Esp) 67 71 70, R Evans (Eng) 70 70 68, C Lee (Sco) 67 71 70, 

209 Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 67 68 74, T Shadbolt (Eng) 69 70 70, C Mivis (Bel) 69 72 68, T Murray (Eng) 67 71 71, J Rutherford (Eng) 70 67 72, R James (Wal) 69 68 72, R Charania (Ken) 70 70 69, K Samooja (Fin) 65 66 78, 

210 J Suri (USA) 72 68 70, O Stark (Swe) 65 76 69, E Dubois (Fra) 70 70 70, R Dinwiddie (Eng) 71 68 71, Gary Hurley (Irl) 68 72 70, B Evans (Eng) 68 73 69, B Neil (Sco) 73 67 70, N Johansson (Swe) 70 71 69, M Lafeber (Ned) 66 72 72, 

211 S Ngige (Ken) 67 73 71, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 66 75, M Orrin (Eng) 69 70 72, S Connor (Eng) 71 69 71, Michael Hoey (Nir) 70 69 72, P Widegren (Swe) 68 73 70, 

212 C Sordet (Fra) 71 67 74, M Lampert (Ger) 69 67 76, G Boyd (Eng) 67 71 74, D Van Tonder (RSA) 74 67 71, 

213 O Lengden (Swe) 65 75 73, C Griffiths (Eng) 70 70 73, M Madsen (Den) 69 72 72, R McGowan (Eng) 71 68 74, C Braeunig (Ger) 71 69 73, 

214 N Lindstrom (Swe) 66 72 76, D Law (Sco) 71 69 74, 

215 J Hansen (Den) 72 68 75