Slattery leads two-time winner Molinari in Italian Open

Italy’s Francesco Molinari who is one shot behind England’s Lee Slattery going into the final round of the Italian Open in Brescia.(AFP pic)

BRESCIA: England’s Lee Slattery hit a nine-under-par 62 to grab the lead after the third round of the Italian Open in Brescia on Saturday.

Slattery is one shot ahead of home favourite Francesco Molinari — bidding for a third Italian Open title — and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, going into the final round at the Gardagolf Country Club in northern Italy.

“When you get in that zone, you just keep making birdies. It’s a great feeling,” said 340th-ranked Slattery.

“I’ll just try and relax and just enjoy it tomorrow.”

The 39-year-old English golfer is looking for his third European tour win and first since the Russian Open in September 2015.

Slattery had led during the second round only to drop three shots in two holes on Friday.

But he made no mistake in excellent conditions on Saturday, nailing eight birdies, with an excellent approach to the seventh hole allowing him to roll in a ten-footer for an eagle.

He carded a single bogey in his nine-under-par round, which took him to 16 under for the week.

Last week’s Wentworth winner Molinari carded six birdies, as he pushed to add to his titles in 2006 and 2016 and gain a spot on the Ryder Cup team in France this autumn.

Olesen made seven birdies before dropping his only shot of the day on the 16th for a round of 65.

Overnight leader Martin Kaymer of Germany and another former Masters Tournament winner Danny Willett kept in touch one shot further back after rounds of 68 and 67 respectively.

English pair Andy Sullivan and Jordan Smith had rounds of 65 to share sixth on 13 under along with China’s Li Haotong (67) and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello (68).