Matt Wallace leads star-studded leaderboard at Italian Open

Matt Wallace is in pole position to collect his second win of the season as he opened up a two-shot lead after the third round of the Italian Open in Monza.


Italian Open

Wallace capped a solid four-under 67 with a brilliant par-save at the last to remain on 17 under par for the tournament, but he will be wary of his two closest challengers being birthday-boy Tyrrell Hatton and defending champion Francesco Molinari heading into the final day.

Tommy Fleetwood looks set to increase his lead at the top of the Race to Dubai standings after he fired a superb eight-under 63, while his biggest rivals for the European No 1 crown, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm, both lost ground on the leaders.

Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick clearly enjoyed playing alongside one another as they lit up the Golf Club Milano layout and were a combined 15 under par for the round.

Fitzpatrick kept a bogey off his card and, despite being unable to take advantage of the two par-fives on the front nine, he did manage four birdies and added another at the 12th before making a superb eagle two holes later.

But Fitzpatrick’s 64 was eclipsed by his fellow Englishman, who birdied three of the first six holes and then rolled in a great putt for eagle at the ninth to turn in 31.

Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood (63) and Matt Fitzpatrick (64) both made big moves up the leaderboard on the third day of the Italian Open.

Fleetwood dropped his only shot of the day at the 12th, but he responded with four birdies over the next five holes to reach 13 under par, just four strokes adrift of the leader.

George Coetzee, who made two eagles in his 65, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (68) share fourth on 14 under, while Hatton enjoyed a remarkable run of birdies on the front nine to keep the pressure on Wallace.

Hatton, who successfully defended his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title last week, hit back from a bogey at the third with five birdies over the next six holes, although he failed to convert several further chances after the turn and settled for one further gain at 14.

The in-form Englishman, who was celebrating his 26th birthday, parred the last four to sign for a 65 and a score of 15 under alongside local hero Molinari, who kept his adoring home fans entertained with a flawless five-birdie 66.

But Hatton and Molinari are still chasing the impressive Wallace, who co-led overnight and got off to an encouraging start with birdies at the first and fifth before he made only his second bogey of the tournament at the seventh.

Wallace, who is 130th in the Race to Dubai despite his victory in Portugal in May, bounced back with a birdie at the ninth and, as the likes of Hatton and Molinari applied the pressure, he put daylight between himself and the chasing pack with further gains at 13 and 14.

His lead looked in danger of being halved when his pulled drive at the last came to rest against a tree-trunk, and his stab back out was lucky to settle on the fairway after taking a big bounce off a drain cover.

But the 27-year-old clipped a smooth nine-iron to five feet and held his composure to knock in the par-saving putt to ensure he would sleep on a two-shot advantage over a high-quality field.

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Garcia and Rahm were both confident of making inroads into Fleetwood’s huge lead of almost a million points at the top of the Race to Dubai standings, but the Spanish duo both slipped outside the top 20.

Masters champion Garcia was one over for his round after an early bogey at the third before he lifted his spirits with an eagle at the 14th as he signed for a frustrating 70 which left him seven shots behind the leader.

And Rahm is a further stroke adrift, although he did give himself some momentum to take into the final day as he birdied three of the last five holes to salvage a 69.