Full of confidence after making the cut in The Open at Muirfield at fortnight ago, the 2012 Glenmuir Club Pros’ champion replaced Buchanan Castle’s birthday boy Jason McCreadie in pole position after a third-day 65 on the King’s Course.
It moved him to 16-under-par for the tournament, four clear of Banchory’s Greig Hutcheon after the Tartan Tour No 1 maintained his challenge with a second successive seven-under 64.
McCreadie, the winner in 2008, slipped back to third on ten-under after a sloppy 73, with Gamola Golf’s Greg McBain, lying third overnight, also denting his hopes with a 74 to sit on five-under.
“I played well again,” said Wright, bidding to go one better in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event after losing in a play-off to Chris Doak at the same venue three years ago.
“My swing didn’t feel great on Monday but I did some work on the range last night and it felt good again when I came out this morning.”
The Edinburgh-based Welshman, who helped Scotland win the PGAs of Europe Team Championship last year, produced a flawless effort that contained four birdies and an eagle, which came at the last.
“I’m just sticking to my gameplan, trying to play sensible golf and taking one shot at a time,” he added.
Hutcheon, the champion in 1999, enjoyed another hot day with the putter as he followed five birdies in his opening 17 holes by also closing with an eagle. “It was 24 putts yesterday and I might have beaten that today, which is ridiculous,” he said. “I’ve got a new putter that I picked up at the start of this year and I’m undoubtedly putting the best I have in my life.”
He admitted Wright will be hard to catch but added: “At least my last two rounds have given me a chance to try to put some pressure on him.”
Two clear at the start of the day, McCreadie, celebrating his 43rd birthday, dropped four shots in the first eight holes as he was overtaken at the top for the first time since his opening 64.
“Gareth played phenomenally today and then finished it off nicely as well, but I’m still in the mix,” he insisted.
David Orr, the 2009 winner, is fourth on six-under after a 65, but the stage looks set for a final-day fight between the top three, with Wright the man in the driving seat after producing three outstanding efforts so far.