Rome – Matthew Fitzpatrick birdied four of his final six holes on Saturday to hold onto a one-shot lead at the Italian Open heading into the final round.
The Englishman’s strong finish was enough for a three-under-par third round of 68 which took him to 13-under for the tournament.
“To finish the way I did, was great,” said Fitzpatrick, who is looking to win for the fifth straight year on the European Tour.
“To put myself one in front going into that gives me a little bit of help… I’m just looking forward and ready to go already.”
American Kurt Kitayama powered up the leaderboard into second place with a 65, while Scot Robert MacIntyre continued his impressive debut season on the European Tour by firing a 64 to move within two strokes of the lead.
The 23-year-old MacIntyre, who has broken into the world’s top 100 and finished tied-sixth in July’s British Open, is projected to leap to seventh in the season-long Race to Dubai standings.
“I’m not really looking at the world ranking now,” he said.
“Just trying to run up that as fast as I can, to end the season really high. Obviously, Race to Dubai, if I get into position coming into the last three (events), you go for gold, don’t you.”
World number 31 Fitzpatrick started the round with a one-shot lead but looked in danger of slipping adrift after 10 holes in Rome. Instead, he remains in control as he bids for a sixth European Tour title.
His compatriot Matt Wallace and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger remain in contention, just three shots behind on 10-under.
It was a horrible day, though, for Justin Rose, as the former world number one plummeted down the leaderboard with a seven-over 78 in which he failed to make a single birdie.
Rose, who was only three shots back overnight, is now 13 off the pace and tied for 51st.
Leading and selected third-round scores from the European Tour’s Italian Open at the Olgiata Golf Club in Rome on Saturday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 71):
200 – Matthew Fitzpatrick 67-65-68
201 – Kurt Kitayama (USA) 66-70-65
202 – Robert MacIntyre 69-69-64
203 – Matt Wallace 69-67-67, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 66-70-67
204 – Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 68-70-66
205 – Wang Jeung-hun (KOR) 72-69-64, Aaron Rai 69-67-69, Andrew Johnston 67-68-70
206 – Andrea Pavan (ITA) 69-67-70, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 68-68-70, Graeme McDowell 69-66-71
207 – Francesco Laporta (ITA) 69-70-68, Danny Willett 68-70-69, Matthias Schwab (AUT) 68-69-70, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 66-69-72, Joachim B. Hansen (DEN) 67-66-74
213 – Justin Rose 66-69-78