With just 18 holes to play before the determination of the 45 players who will progress to the European Challenge Tour’s Grand Final, the pressure is well and truly on at the Roma Golf Open.
Italy’s own Gregory Molteni leads the way at the Olgiata Golf Club on ten under par – two strokes clear of the English duo of Lloyd Kennedy and Sam Little, Portugal’s José Filipe Lima and Scotsman Raymond Russell.
There are myriad intriguing final round scenarios unfolding ahead of the Grand Final, with Kennedy and the three men in a tie for sixth position just one stroke behind the Englishman – Magnus Carlsson, Callum Macaulay and Colm Moriarty – all pushing to break into the top 45 at the conclusion of the Roma Golf Open.
Kennedy, currently 49th in the Rankings, will qualify for the Grand Final if he can maintain his current position, but Carlsson needs to win the first prize of €25,600 and Macaulay and Moriarty need at least a third place finish (worth €11,200) to make the breakthrough.
Little, meanwhile, who is second in the Rankings after his brilliant run of recent form that includes back-to-back victories in Russia and France, is looking to close as much of the €12,000 gap between himself and Number One Tommy Fleetwood before the season finale.
Lima can break into the all-important top 20 with a strong finish at Olgiata while Italy’s two highest ranked Challenge Tour players – Andrea Pavan (eighth in the Rankings) and Federico Colombo (12th) are in position to improve their overall standing after third round scores of one under 70 took the pair to six under for the tournament and only four strokes behind their compatriot Molteni.
Ironically, Molteni is the one man in the field who is playing without the pressure of the imminent Grand Final on his shoulders.
The Italian has just resumed his career after taking some time away from the game to reassess his goals and his performance so far at Olgiata has confirmed that he is indeed on the right career path.
“I think I can probably play with a lot more freedom than everyone else in the field this week and that will help me going into the final round tomorrow,” said Molteni after signing for the 69 that took him to ten under for the tournament.
“I played well on the front nine today but things got a little tense on the back nine. Hopefully I can make a good start tomorrow and settle down quickly because it would be a big step for me in terms of confidence if I could win here so soon after coming back to the game.”