Italian teenager Matteo Manassero took a commanding lead in the Rolex Trophy after firing a stunning eight under par 64 in the third round.
The 17 year old showed why he has become one of golf’s hottest properties in the last year, carding nine birdies to reach 19 under for the tournament and lead Chile’s Mark Tullo, who shot 66, by four shots. Scotland’s George Murray, who signed for a 67, is seven shots behind at 12 under par overall, and Englishman Lee Slattery, who shot 65, is another stroke further back.
Having teed off from the tenth and reached the turn five under following six birdies and a bogey, Manassero picked up further shots at the first, third and fifth.
“It’s very easy to enjoy it when you’re playing like this,” said Manassero, who won the Silver Medal as the highest-placed amateur in The 2009 Open Championship and became the youngest player in history to make the cut at the Masters Tournament in April.
“It feels very good. I’m leading now – obviously Alex (Kaleka) still has to go out this afternoon – and it’s been a great round for me today. Everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve done. I made one three-putt but otherwise it’s a great score.
“I don’t think I will be far ahead at the end of the day. And I won’t change how I play. You still have to play really well on this course and make many chances for birdie and hole as many putts as you can. You always have to try to extend the lead as much as you can.”
Murray, chasing his second Challenge Tour win following his victory in the Scottish Hydro Challenge, said: “That was the best I’ve played all week. I’ve struggled a bit the last two days. I three-putted on the 18th for a bogey which was annoying, but it’s just one of those things.
“Manassero is absolutely flying out there today and in control now. But if any of the guys this afternoon can shoot low they might be able to get close to him.”
Slattery, who has had a mixed week so far with two rounds of 65 and a second round of 73, said: “It’s been like a see-saw these last three days. I didn’t play badly yesterday but just didn’t score well. Maybe I had too much sleep the night before. I didn’t sleep well last night and shoot 65 again – maybe that’s the secret!”