Gregory Molteni will go into the final day of the Reale Challenge de España perfectly placed to make it back-to-back Italian winners on the European Challenge Tour after opening up a two stroke lead in Madrid.
Molteni shot a superb 67 to move to 12 under par for the tournament and move clear of overnight leader Andrew McArthur of Scotland going into the final round at the Casino Club de Golf Retamares.
While World Champions Italy are one of the favourites to win Euro 2008, Molteni is now in pole position to follow countryman Alessandro Tadini’s win at the Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge last week with an victory of his own, and ensure the Italians also grab the headlines on the golf course.
After dropping a shot on the first hole, Molteni shot two birdies before slipping back to level par for the day with a bogey on the fourth. He then birdied the fifth before stepping it up a gear on the back nine with successive birdies on the tenth and 11th, before an eagle three on the 13th cemented his place at the top of the leaderboard.
He said: “In general every part of my game today was good. I felt very good out on the course and I was comfortable with my game. I need to play well in this tournament to get into more tournaments.
“I am 26 years old and have been a professional for three years. This year I have only played six tournaments, and my best finish was fifth in Morocco. I need a good tournament.
“I’ve worked with my coach at home, my father, Pietro Molteni, who used to play on The European Tour years ago and now plays on the European Seniors Tour. He is a great coach and a great player. He had heart surgery last year and three months later he won the Italian Championship. I have a lot to learn from him. He tells me to be more patient, more relaxed on the course, but I have a lot to learn. We will see what happens tomorrow but I will fight for this tournament.”
McArthur lost his advantage after a round of 72 to stay on even par for the tournament. Swede Rikard Karlberg shot a 67 to move into a tie of third place on nine under par, where he is joined by Chilean Mark Tullo.