Saturday, 11 June 2011
Robert Rock  (Getty Images)
Robert Rock (Getty Images)

Robert Rock remained on course for a maiden European Tour title with a third round 68 that left him two shots clear at the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi.

The Englishman advanced to 16 under par for the week to pull ahead of a group of six players on 14 under at Royal Park I Roveri.

“Winning here would be amazing for my confidence,” said Rock, who next week will compete in the US Open Championship after qualifying for the first time.

“I am confident already because of my putting this week. I haven’t putted like this in a long time.

“I got a little putting tip out of an old Paul Runyan golf book that a friend gave me. I was reading it on Monday and Tuesday and decided to make a small change to my putting grip. I didn’t even get the chance to try it in practice and took a bit of a gamble by trying in the first round, but I holed my first putt and decided to stick with it. That’s got me through so far.

“I am really, really happy with the putting now. One more day of that and everything will be all right.”

Starting the day with a one shot lead, 34 year old Rock birdied the second for the third time this week only to then bogey the par three fourth after missing the green from the tee.

Consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth and again at the 12th and 13th saw him pull clear – but he missed a six foot chance on the final green to extend his lead even further.

Rock’s closest attempt at winning came when he lost a play-off for the Irish Open in 2009 to then-amateur Shane Lowry, but he believes he has the mental strength to get over the line.

“I don’t think I’ve had a lead going into the final day and it’s about time I did,” he added. “I’ve had nine years out here trying to win, so we will see how I do tomorrow.

“The first round was my best and although I didn’t play as well since then, I’ve putted well. Now I’m two shots clear. My ninth season on Tour. I had a tie or joint lead on occasions and lost in a play-off once and few seconds, so this will be interesting tomorrow.”

Amongst those who will be in hot pursuit during the final round are home favourite Francesco Molinari and Swede Niclas Fasth, whose 64 was the best score of the day.

“I’ve been playing well for three days but struggling with the scoring,” said Fasth, who followed a chip-in eagle on the eighth with five straight birdies. “Then I struck that patch in the middle of the round and that’s where I made up my ground.”

Ryder Cup star Molinari, cheered on by a crowd of 8,000 in his home city of Turin, mixed six birdies and two bogeys in a 68.

“I played well enough and I am in it tomorrow,” he said. “I left at least a couple of shots out there but it’s not easy with the expectation of the crowd. I am happy with the way I played apart from a couple of putts not dropping. Same again tomorrow - it’s a good position to be in.”

Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal holed a six foot eagle putt at the last to join the group on 14 under, which also included South African Jbe Kruger, Dutchman Joost Luiten and England’s Gary Boyd.

There were some great shots as well as outstanding rounds, most notably Steve Webster’s albatross with a five wood approach on the par five 11th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ROCK, RobertENG18-21
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-20
T2BOYD, GaryENG18-20
4WHITEFORD, PeterSCO18-19
5LUITEN, JoostNED18-18
T6JONZON, MichaelSWE18-17
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