Nicolai Hojgaard takes narrow third-round lead in Italian Open

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Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard leads at the Italian Open (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)
Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard leads at the Italian Open (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard shot a six-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open.

The 20-year-old twin brother of Rasmus Hojgaard – the winner of last week’s Omega European Masters – carded four birdies and an eagle in a blemish-free third round in Rome.

He could face a strong challenge on Sunday, though, from England’s Tommy Fleetwood who had been tied for the lead on 13 under until a bogey on the 17th at the Marco Simone Golf Club.

Fleetwood signed for a third-round 67 to sit alongside South Africa’s Daniel Van Tonder, who recorded a five-under-par 66, in second on 12 under.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen was fourth on 11 under while overnight leader Min Woo Lee of Australia dropped back to fifth after an even-par 71 left him at 10 under.

Welshman Oliver Farr was one of three players on nine under and Ross Fisher was in a share of ninth on eight under.

Hojgaard, who began three shots off the lead, was steady through the opening four holes before beginning his rise with birdies at the fifth, seventh, 11th and 12th. An eagle at the par-four 16th ensured he would end the day at the head of the field.

Tommy Fleetwood is firmly in contention (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)
Tommy Fleetwood is firmly in contention (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

“I’m really happy,” said Hojgaard, who is hoping to emulate Rasmus and become a European Tour winner. “I played overall pretty good.

“I wanted to get up and down on the 18th to post 14 under but I’m really happy with minus 13.

“I would really love to win. Seeing Rasmus win is a big motivation. I’m just trying to follow in his steps a little bit.”

Fleetwood, who is hoping to find some form ahead of the Ryder Cup following a moderate season, picked up five birdies in eight holes from the ninth. For a third day in succession, however, he suffered frustration on his penultimate hole of the day, this time taking four at the par-three 17th.

He said: “I’m happy with where I’m at in the tournament. It’s nice to come down the stretch on a Saturday in contention knowing you’re fighting for your place so high up on the board.

“I’m excited to go into a Sunday in contention and see where my game’s at really. It’ll be a nice time to come into form so I’ll keep trying.”

Van Tonder’s position might also have been better but for a bad finish. The South African carded six birdies but then bogeyed the par-five 18th.

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