Hend’s third round 64 was the equal best of the day, improving his overnight position 39 places while Fox consolidated his 36 hole position near the top of the leaderboard with a two under round of 70.
Hend whose game has been below his normal standards for much of the year was clearly pleased with his round and how his game is on the improve.
“It's getting better and better. I've got an immediate goal to get back to the Top-100 in the world (currently 101st) for the PGA Championship coming up. Not sure when the cut off exactly is, but just working towards that."
Of the other Australians still in the field Andrew Dodt is also having a good week and shares 19th position, Wade Ormsby and Marcus Fraser are 22nd amd Sam Brazel 51st.
Joint 36 hole leader Benjamin Hebert of France is one behind the leaders while Japanese star, Hideto Tanihara, who would otherwise have been defending a title in Hokkaido this week, posted a 66 to move into outright fourth position at 15 under and two from the lead, a shot clear of another Frenchman in Julien Quesne who matched the Portstewart course record of 64.
Justin Rose and Oliver Fisher share 6th position with Hend and Fox
Rahm has risen to 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking this season and will now go in search of his first European Tour Rolex Series title, with Im also looking for a maiden win after narrowly keeping hold of his card last year.
“Patience was key to be honest," said Rahm. "I was playing good, making good swings and I was saving a couple of good shots. The putts just weren't dropping. It was just important to make sure that I was going to stay patient and keep hitting good putts.”
Rahm has been delighted as to how the Irish crowds have warmed to the appearance of one of the game’s most exciting young talents.
“I can’t explain why but it’s been unbelievable to see how the Irish crowd has kind of taken to me. It seems like they decided to support me like if I was one of their own, and it's been incredible. It does help out when you have that kind of support.
“Hopefully I can enjoy the day as much as I can tomorrow, have fun, enjoy the moment, and let's see if I can make a few more putts on the front nine like I've been doing the first few days.”
The tournament is part of the eight event Rolex Series and carries the minimum purse for those events of US$7 million.
MARGARET RIVER ROAD TRIP