LUKE Joy will take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Championship after carding a second-round 68 to move from eight under to 11 under and extend his 18-hole lead to two strokes by the end of Thursday’s play at Cumberwell Park.

Nick McCarthy and Marcus Armitage share second on nine under, while seven golfers are tied fourth on eight under. Among those three behind the leader is Dave Thomas, who shot the day’s best round – an eight-under-par 63 on the par-71 red and yellow course.

Joy (Broadstone Golf Club) began the day one ahead of the field after opening with a 63 on Wednesday. His second round began on the tenth tee and he got off to a promising start with birdies at 11 and 12. He broke par again at the first to sign for an unblemished second-round 68.

“I played very solidly again today,” he said. “It wasn’t the fireworks with the putter I had in the first round but overall I was happy with the day’s work. The weather was very pleasant again and the course is in great shape.

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead of me tomorrow. I will go out to have fun, see how low I can post and then see if it is enough to win.”

McCarthy (Moortown Golf Club) was four behind Joy at the start of the day but a second-round 66 saw him move to within two of the leader. Armitage (Howley Hall Golf Club) was a winner on the Tour at Concra Wood last year and shot a six-under 65 to join McCarthy in second ahead of the final round.

Eight golfers will begin Friday’s conclusive 18 just three off the lead and having seen course-record rounds of eight under carded twice this week will know a low score for victory is possible.

A further nine players are just four behind Joy and will also take realistic hopes of finishing top of the pack into Friday’s. The winner will take home £10,000 from the £40,000 prize fund.

Matt Swales led the Cumberwell Park challenge, carding a second-round 69 to lie three under par, with Charlie Cossins a further shot back.

Cumberwell's Steve Surry, Ben Lloyd, Alex Blewett, Alex Pike, amateur Ali James and Louis Boston were among those to miss the cut, along with Sam Matton (Bowood) and Ben Loughrey (Wrag Barn).

A total of 67 players on two under par or better progressed to tomorrow's final round, which will be filmed for a two-hour highlights package to be aired on Sky Sports on July 1.

Spectator entry is free.