Lee Slattery powered into a one-shot lead after firing a stunning nine-under 62 on day three of the Italian Open.
With overnight leader Martin Kaymer struggling to make much happen until late in his round, Slattery took his chance to shine and propelled himself 16 places up the leaderboard with eight birdies, one eagle and a lone bogey on his card.
Slattery responded to his one mistake at the 12th with three consecutive birdies, and another at the last lifted him to 16 under and ensured a one-shot lead over Thorbjorn Olesen and home favourite Francesco Molinari.
Olesen did get to 16 under when he followed an outward 32 with four birdies in five holes on the back nine, but he gave a shot back at the 16th and parred in to return a 65.
The Dane shares second with an inspired BMW PGA champion Molinari, who stayed firmly in the hunt for his third Italian Open win with a third straight 66, although his bogey at the sixth was the first blemish on his card since the second round at Wentworth.
Former Masters champion Danny Willett continued his welcome return to form and posted a 67 to stay within two shots off the lead as he bids for his first victory since claiming his maiden major title at Augusta.
But, like Olesen, Willett also faltered down the stretch having got to five under with three straight birdies from the 11th, but a frustrating six at the par-five 15th dropped the Englishman down to 14 under.
Kaymer led by one overnight following his sparkling second-round 63, his lowest round for three years, but he made a nervy start with a bogey at the second before settling himself with a birdie at six.
But the German lost ground on the leaders with a run of six pars, although he finished with a flourish as three birdies in five holes helped salvage a creditable 68 which lifted him into a share of fourth with Willett.
The strong English presence near the top of the leaderboard continued with Andy Sullivan and Jordan Smith both returning six-under 65s to get to 13 under, while Ian Poulter is a further shot adrift after a 66.
But Graeme McDowell slipped six shots off the lead after an erratic 71 which he capped with two bogeys over the last three holes, while European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood will need something special to challenge on the last day after mixing five birdies with three bogeys in a 69 – closing on nine under par.
Live European Tour Golf
June 3, 2018, 11:30am
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