England’s Lee Slattery holds a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Italian Open after carding a best-of-the-week 62 on day three at Gardagolf Country Club.
The 39-year-old from Southport fired eight birdies and an eagle from ten feet on the seventh in his nine-under-par round.
A solitary bogey after a miscued tee shot on the 12th leaves Slattery 16 under for the week, one ahead of home favourite and last week’s BMW PGA Championship winner Francesco Molinari and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.
Halfway leader Martin Kaymer and England’s Danny Willett – both major champions but short of form of late – are a shot further back after rounds of 68 and 67 respectively.
Slattery made birdies at the fourth and sixth before taking advantage of an excellent approach to the seventh. The two-time European Tour winner made another gain at the tenth and, after his blemish on the 12th where he was fortunate his tee shot stopped just short of the water, bounced back with a hat-trick of gains before converting from 12 feet at the last.
“It was very relaxing, playing with two good guys, Laurie Canter and Richard Sterne. (I) know them both quite well, and we just enjoyed it,” Slattery said.
“When you get in that zone, you just keep making birdies. It’s a great feeling. I’ll just try to relax and just enjoy it tomorrow.”
Olesen made seven birdies before dropping his only shot of the day on the 16th after three-putting for a round of 65, while Molinari – twice a winner of his national open – carded one bogey and six birdies, including a lengthy effort on the 18th which delighted the locals in Brescia.
Scotland’s David Drysdale is ten shots off the lead after his round of 71 left him on six under.
Meanwhile, Peter Baker will look to win his first Staysure Tour title as he heads into the final round of the Shipco Masters promoted by Simon’s Golf Club with a two-shot lead. The Englishman, who won three times on the European Tour, carded a perfect blemish-free five under par round of 67 to move into top spot in Kvistgard, Denmark.
Baker has not dropped a shot over the 36 holes and kept his cool in the baking sunshine to leave himself in pole position for his debut win on the over-50s circuit. “I’m delighted with it. I was first off this morning which was actually a good time because it was a touch cooler,” he said. “It was good to get going and I got off to a great start and I kept it going by giving myself lots of chances. It was nice to get around without too much heat for the first five or six holes. It was a cracking day and it was great to play golf.”
Baker’s early score was hotly pursued by 1993 Ryder Cup team-mate Barry Lane, who lies second on eight under par after a three-under par round of 69. However, the best round of the day was by the American Clark Dennis who fired a six-under-par 66 including seven birdies – four in the final four holes.
Laura Davies posted a one-under par 71 to lie joint 43rd on five under for the tournament.