Mulroy keeps Spanish challenge at bay

9/15/2012 3:52:25 PM
Garth Mulroy  (Getty Images)
Garth Mulroy (Getty Images)
South African Garth Mulroy will take a one shot lead into the final round of the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi after a six under par 66.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship winner had seven birdies and only his second bogey of the week in moving to 17 under par at Royal Park I Roveri - but he has a trio of Spaniards hot on his heels.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño birdied the last two holes for a 67 to be 16 under, with Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Pablo Larrazábal a shot further back after rounds of 65 and 66 respectively.

Mulroy, who feels the course has a South African feel to it, admitted it would be a big boost to his confidence to win on European soil for the first time after claiming three victories on home soil and two on the Nationwide Tour in America.

"I said on the first day the course reminds me a lot of a South African course,” said the 34 year old, who almost holed his approach to the 13th. “The trees, the shape, and the ball goes a little further too.

"I haven't played so well this year. It would be a big thing to win on mainland Europe, especially with the purse here and the two-year exemption. I don't win very often so I'd take any win.

"I've played quite a bit with Gonzalo. We've been drawn together a few times and have played together a few more at the weekend. I enjoy it and I like his caddie too, he's a funny guy. I feel very comfortable out there."

Fernandez-Castaño had seven birdies and four bogeys - two due to putting his ball in the water - but the highlight was undoubtedly a 70 foot eagle at the long eighth.

"I played well but I had a few unforced errors which cost me a few shots,” said the five-time European Tour winner.

"But two birdies to finish on the last two holes has put me back in contention and I'm in a great position for tomorrow.

"It's not going to be an easy task. There are a lot of players within four shots, and this is one of those courses where you can go really low if you have a good day.

“So I will need to play well again tomorrow and go low, especially to put some pressure on Garth, who is playing great. He's hitting the ball beautifully and his putting is fabulous. It's going to be hard to beat him tomorrow."

Ryder Cup stars Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer remain in contention on 13 under, along with home favourite Matteo Manassero, overnight leader Ricard Bland, Welshman Phillip Price and France’s Grégory Bourdy.