Edoardo Molinari surged into the lead at the Tusker Kenya Open after a third round of three under par 67 saw him move to six under 204 and took him three strokes clear of Argentina’s Sebastian Fernandez and Mikael Lundberg of Sweden with just 18 holes to play at the Karen Golf Club.
The Italian, already a winner on the 2007 Challenge Tour Schedule following his victory in the Club Colombia Masters, continues to fulfil the promise he showed as one of the world’s leading amateur players in this, his first full season as a professional.
Molinari is currently fourth on the Challenge Tour Rankings and if he can hold onto his lead and close out a second victory of the season in Kenya he will leapfrog Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti at the top of the Rankings.
For the moment, Molinari is focusing purely on his final round in Kenya, but he is aware of how close he will be to securing a place on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule if he can stay ahead of the chasing pack.
"I cannot think too much about winning the card or the Rankings just now," said Molinari. "It’s too early to be thinking about things like that.
"I just have to focus on playing well tomorrow and trying to win this tournament. If I can win tomorrow then I can think further ahead.
"I have been able to make a great start to this season by winning in Colombia and having another top ten finish in Costa Rica, which has been very important because last year I finished the season very poorly and my confidence was low."
If Molinari is to secure a second victory of the season, he will have to hold of the considerable challenges of Fernandez and Lundberg, both proven winners who have the experience to cause Molinari problems during Sunday’s final round if the leader is not at the top of his game.
Fernandez, the 2003 Costa Rica open champion, and Lundberg, the 2005 Cadillac Russian Open winner, carded respective third round scores of 66 and 67 to get within three strokes of Molinari going into the final round.
Second round leader Liam Bond of Wales, Frenchman Julien Grillon and South Africa’s James Kamte are grouped together on two under.