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Italian Open 2018

Round 3 - Slattery hoping to spoil Molinari’s homecoming party in Italy

June 02, 2018

England's Lee Slattery stormed into the lead with a best-of-the-week 62 on day three of the Italian Open at Gardagolf Country Club to take a one stroke lead over Denmark's Thorbjørn Olesen and home favourite Francesco Molinari into the final round of the second Rolex Series event of the European Tour season.

Slattery hoping to spoil Molinari’s homecoming party in Italy, © Getty Images

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“Coming off the back of 77 and 79 at Wentworth last week, I never really expected this. But it proves once again to all them golfers out there, you're never that far away. So yeah, just an incredible round of golf. Played lovely all day."

“I think because the course has played quite wet this week, it has not played firm like we all thought it would with the weather. They had a thunderstorm the other night and it just made it very wet, and yesterday was very unlucky, hitting driver off that hole, one of the best my day and lost my ball."

"I felt like I dealt with it well. Took me two holes to get it out of my system but to come back today and shoot 62, can't even think about it."

The 39 year old Englishman made eight birdies, an eagle and a single bogey in his nine-under-par round, which took him to 16 under for the week and one clear of Olesen and Molinari, who carded respective third rounds of 65 and 66 to share second place, with halfway leader Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett a shot further back.

Major champions Kaymer and Willett have both struggled for form of late but kept their chances alive with rounds of 68 and 67 respectively, with English pair Andy Sullivan and Jordan Smith round in 65 to share sixth on 13 under with China's Li Haotong (67) and Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello (68).

Last week's BMW PGA Championship winner Molinari may have seen his incredible run of 85 holes without a bogey come to an end on the sixth hole of his third round, but he recovered beautifully with five birdies in his last 12 holes, including the 18th, where the huge galleries roared home their man in typically passionate fashion.

“I've been more erratic off the tee probably than usual, but I managed to scramble well. Putting today was really good. Might go hit some balls on the range tonight."

Molinari will once again relish the burden of expectation of an entire nation during the final round, when he will look to lift his national open title for the third time in his remarkable career.

“It would be the most special considering what I've done last week. But yeah, one step at a time. Hopefully my ball-striking will be a little bit better tomorrow and take another chance."

- Getty Images