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Saturday, 25 May 2013
Francesco Molinari   (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)
Francesco and Edoardo Molinari were hoping to turn the BMW PGA Championship into a family affair as good weather produced equally good scoring at Wentworth Club.

Francesco held a one shot lead going into the third round after rounds of 70 and 68 in cold and wet conditions which claimed notable scalps in defending champion Luke Donald and Ryder Cup team-mates Paul Lawrie, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter.

But his elder brother Edoardo was just one of a large number of challengers to emerge from the chasing pack as the field made the most of the improvement in the weather in The European Tour's Flagship Event.

Edoardo, who partnered his brother in The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010, had gone to the turn in 32 and birdied the tenth to get to six under alongside Lee Westwood, Matteo Manassero and Richard Bland.

Westwood had predicted he was the man to watch after talking up the improvements in his short game since his move to Florida over the winter, but it was a brilliant approach to the par five fourth which set up an eagle from just four feet.

The 40 year old saved par on the sixth after his second shot flew over the green before picking up another shot on the seventh, while Bland had carded four birdies in the same stretch and Manassero birdied the second and fourth.

Spain's Alejandro Cañizares had briefly moved into the lead with birdies at the first and third, but Francesco almost holed his tee-shot to the second and two-putted the fourth for birdie to improve to eight under.

The London-based Italian was one ahead of Cañizares and Scotland's Marc Warren, who had birdied the fourth and fifth after opening with three pars.

Scotland's Richie Ramsay had set the clubhouse target at four under, partly thanks to a "Seve-like" escape on the 18th in his round of 66.

Ramsay made the halfway cut with nothing to spare on two over par, but the 29 year old equalled the lowest round of the week with seven birdies and one bogey, arguably saving his best till last.

"It was a Seve-like par," Ramsay said of his five on the 18th, a reference to the kind of escapes often required by the late Seve Ballesteros.

"I was playing great and went to be aggressive with my tee-shot down the right but pushed it and caught the trees. It ended up right in the middle of the bushes but I took an unplayable lie some 100 yards back and hit a rescue club over the ditch.

"I hit it a bit far into the rough and had a tree to go over but hit it to three feet. It was a great way to finish because it could have been a high number."

Veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez, playing his 600th European Tour event, was also four under after a 67 in only his second tournament of the year after breaking his leg in a skiing accident last December.

The Molinari brothers' hopes of victory suffered major blows within minutes of each other, Edoardo making a double bogey on the 14th after coming up short of the green and compounding a poor pitch with three putts.

And Francesco then ran up a triple bogey on the eighth by also three-putting after pulling his approach shot into the water to the left of the green.

England's Mark Foster was the major beneficiary, making three birdies in a row from the sixth - including from just two feet on the eighth - to move to eight under par.

Cañizares remained seven under after ten and was joined by English rookie Eddie Pepperell, who was a spectator at this event last year but had birdied the fourth, seventh and ninth to be out in 32.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MANASSERO, MatteoITA18-10
T2KHAN, SimonENG18-10
T2WARREN, MarcSCO18-10
T4JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-9
T4CAÑIZARES, AlejandroESP18-9
T6ELS, ErnieRSA18-8
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