Bob MacIntyre, who has finished runner-up three times in his rookie season on the European Tour, is today in with yet another big chance of claiming that much sought after maiden victory.
The Scot starts the final round of the Italian Open in Rome just two shots off the pace after a seven-under-par round of 64 yesterday saw him surge up the leaderboard.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick is out in front thanks largely to four birdies in the final six holes of his third round. The 2016 Ryder Cup star’s score of 68 moved him to 13 under par, one clear of America’s Kurt Kitayama. Another shot back on 11 under is MacIntyre.
“That round is up there [among his best this year],” said the Challenge Tour graduate from Oban after jumping from 18th in the leaderboard to third after a bogey-free round at Olgiata Country Club.
“I seem to be getting in positions and just letting it fall away, but today, me and [caddie] Greg [Milne] have been talking about just staying in the present. Just do what we do, and today, we did that. Managed to get a good result.
“When I get too aggressive, it actually affects me. So it’s just about playing to my strengths and the course kind of suits the driver. So we’re just going at it this week and it seems to be working.
“My goal now is just trying to get my mind off trying to win. It’s about trying to get as many world ranking points as I can to try to end the season as high as possible. Everybody knows why they want to end the season high, but the win is irrelevant of what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve just got to go and play my game, and if the win comes, well, I’m sure I’ll celebrate it.”
Fitzpatrick’s round didn’t go entirely to plan. The Englishman had started the day a shot clear of the rest of the field and an opening birdie from inside ten feet was the perfect start – but then he found himself one over after ten holes. However, he holed a five-foot putt for birdie at the 13th and sandwiched a long putt on the 16th with gains at the par-five 15th and 17th.
Fitzpatrick has four runner-up finishes worldwide in the 2019 season so far but will be going in search of a fifth professional career triumph this afternoon.
Speaking to europeantour.com after yesterday’s big finish, he said: “To put myself one in front gives me a little bit of help. I’m just looking forward and I’m ready to go already.
“Coming down the hill on the 12th it didn’t feel like I should be one over. I didn’t hit as many good shots as I would have liked around the turn so that cost me a little bit and put me back. To finish the way I did was great.”
Kitayama, in second place, was pleased with his six-under round of 65. “It was a good day,” said the American. “I missed a few greens but was able to get up-and-down and made some good putts. Playing bogey-free is always good, especially out here. I feel like I’ve been in pretty good control of my irons. My driver today was better. Just trying to keep it in play, really, and give myself a look at the green and take advantage of those.
“This is a big event. Winning at any level, even smaller events, you still have to draw back on those memories and those situations, because the feeling is still going to be similar. Winning’s winning. So just go out and do the same tomorrow.”
Englishman Matt Wallace and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger share fourth place on 10 under par after both players carded rounds of 67, a shot clear of Dane Soren Kjeldsen. World No 5 Justin Rose had a day to forget, with a seven-over-par 78 leaving the Englishman 13 shots off the lead. Local favourite Francesco Molinari missed the cut on Friday.