Hurley back in the groove in Kenya
 Gary Hurley in action during last year's Irish Challenge. Picture: Jimmy Penrose

Gary Hurley in action during last year's Irish Challenge. Picture: Jimmy Penrose

Gary Hurley produced his best performance for ten months to share eighth place behind Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg after 54 holes at the Barclays Kenya Open in Nairobi.

The West Waterford star has been working hard on his swing since last August, and it appears to be paying off after he made an eagle and four birdies in a five-under 66 to get to within five strokes of Soderberg at Muthaiga Golf Club.

Hurley (25) hasn't shot successive rounds in the 60s since last May's D+D REAL Czech Challenge, where he was fourth at halfway after rounds of 69 and 65 but carded rounds of 76 and 73 at the weekend to finish 47th.

Now working with Danish coach, David Dickmeiss to get more control of the clubface through the ball and more consistency, especially with the driver, Hurley opened with a level par 71 in Kenya.

But rounds of 69 and 66 have given him a chance to win more cash on Sunday than he did in the entire 2017 campaign given that the winner will take home €80,000 and all but wrap up their European Tour card in the first outing of the season.

A Walker Cup player in 2015, Hurley birdied the second and bogeyed the par-five seventh before playing his last 11 holes in five-under par.

After a birdie at the eighth, he eagled the par-five 10th for the second day running, then picked up further shots at the 14th and par-three 16th to move 23 places up the leaderboard into a seven-way tie for eighth on seven-under.

Soderberg, who triumphed at neighbouring Karen Country Club in 2016, is seeking to become just the second person since Maurice Bembridge in 1968 and 1969 to win the event at both Nairobi courses.

Following a sublime second round of 65 yesterday, the 27-year-old shot a five under 66 to go into the last round two clear of Germans Max Schmitt and Philipp Mejow on 12-under.

Sweden’s Simon Forsstrom, Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli, Chile’s Nico Geyger and England’s Max Orrin are tied for fourth on eight under with Hurley a shot further back.

Michael Hoey made two birdies and a bogey in a 70 to share 19th on five-under while Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin made four birdies in a 69 to lie joint 27th on four-under par. 

Barclays Kenya Open, Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi (Par 71)

Detailed scores

201 S Soderberg (Swe) 70 65 66, 

203 M Schmitt (Ger) 67 65 71, P Mejow (Ger) 67 72 64, 

205 L Gagli (Ita) 68 68 69, S Forsström (Swe) 66 69 70, N Geyger (Chi) 69 68 68, M Orrin (Eng) 65 71 69, 

206 K Johannessen (Nor) 67 67 72, B Evans (Eng) 69 67 70, J Fahrbring (Swe) 72 70 64, K Samooja (Fin) 71 70 65, O Lengden (Swe) 71 72 63, O Bekker (RSA) 74 69 63, Gary Hurley (Irl) 71 69 66, 

207 L Canter (Eng) 69 68 70, N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) 67 70 70, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 70 71 66, M Schwab (Aut) 76 66 65, 

208 A Karlsson (Swe) 67 69 72, Michael Hoey (Nir) 66 72 70, N Cullen (Aus) 71 68 69, G Stal (Fra) 69 69 70, G Forrest (Sco) 73 68 67, K Koivu (Fin) 70 69 69, V Perez (Fra) 70 72 66, M Nixon (Eng) 67 73 68, 

209 Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 71 70 68, S Heisele (Ger) 74 68 67, 

210 R Kellett (Sco) 65 73 72, J Munro (Aus) 69 74 67, D Stewart (Sco) 69 68 73, D Perrier (Fra) 70 67 73, M Haastrup (Den) 71 70 69, M Baldwin (Eng) 67 71 72, R Langasque (Fra) 70 73 67, D Huizing (Ned) 70 70 70, N Johansson (Swe) 72 71 67, 

211 J Stalter (Fra) 67 71 73, T Linard (Fra) 73 69 69, J Ahlers (RSA) 66 73 72, V Riu (Fra) 68 70 73, A Rozner (Fra) 70 71 70, J Walters (RSA) 68 68 75, J Quesne (Fra) 70 69 72, H Leon (Chi) 72 70 69, 

212 R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 68 73 71, R McGowan (Eng) 76 67 69, S Manley (Wal) 70 73 69, N Schietekat (RSA) 70 72 70, M Ovesen (Den) 75 68 69, J Girrbach (Sui) 71 68 73, E Johansen (Nor) 70 72 70, M Ford (Eng) 71 71 70, M Iten (Sui) 73 70 69, 

213 B Ritthammer (Ger) 72 67 74, P Karmis (RSA) 72 70 71, M Armitage (Eng) 75 68 70, A Tadini (Ita) 70 73 70, 

214 A Michael (RSA) 68 72 74, J Sjöholm (Swe) 67 73 74, D Law (Sco) 69 71 74, 

215 J Senior (Eng) 72 69 74, P Maddy (Eng) 71 71 73, P Figueiredo (Por) 69 70 76, M Madsen (Den) 73 70 72, F Aguilar (Chi) 69 72 74, J Doherty (Sco) 70 71 74, 

216 R Charania (Ken) 71 71 74, 

217 C Blomstrand (Swe) 70 69 78, 

218 R Van West (Ned) 76 67 75, M Mediratta (Ken) 69 70 79, 

219 O Lindell (Fin) 75 66 78, 

221 J Lima (Por) 68 75 78

CUT

145 G Moynihan (Irl) 72 73

148 R McGee (Irl) 74 75