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Blaauw joined by Schott and Rusch atop leaderboard in Italy

Blaauw joined by Schott and Rusch atop leaderboard in Italy

Jacques Blaauw posted a four under par round of 67 to join German Freddy Schott and Switzerland’s Benjamin Rusch at the top of the Italian Challenge Open leaderboard ahead of the final day at Golf Nazionale.


The South African carded six birdies and two bogeys to move to nine under par on a scorching hot day in Viterbo, while Rusch put himself into contention after carding a five under 66 and Schott, who held the overnight lead, posted a level par round of 71.

Blaauw has chosen to take a conservative approach at Golf Nazionale, especially off the tee, and he was delighted to see an upturn in form after struggling with the psychological side of his game in recent weeks.

“I’m feeling pretty good this week,” he said. “It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m at the top of the leaderboard so I’m in a happy spot.

“I’ve been very conservative over the last couple of days and decided to hit three-wood and hybrid off the tee. I went back to my old putter this week and luckily it has been working well.

“I wasn’t in a good place coming into this event, however I’ve been working hard on the mental side of my game. I was missing cuts by one-shot every week and I wasn’t in the right frame of mine to be out on the golf course.”

Co-leader Schott held a one-stroke lead heading into the third round, however he made two bogeys in his opening four holes to slip down the leaderboard. The 21-year-old bounced back brilliantly to card four birdies in his next seven holes and despite a disappointing finish, he was pleased to regain his position at the summit.

“It was a grind today,” he said. “It was tough to play in this heat and the greens were harder. I’m happy I was able to bounce back from a disappointing start and it felt good to see my name on the leaderboard again.

Schott was unable to convert his 54-hole lead at the Kaskáda Golf Challenge last month but believes he has learnt from that experience as he goes in search of a maiden European Challenge Tour title in wire-to-wire fashion tomorrow.

“I was in the same position a few weeks ago in Kaskáda, so hopefully I’ve learnt from that experience and I’m looking forward to it.”

Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin posted a six under par round of 65, which included a front nine 30, to climb into fourth place on eight under par.

Denmark’s Oliver Hundebøll, Frenchman Damien Perrier, Swede Christopher Feldborg Nielsen, Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen, Frenchman Félix Mory and Englishman Jamie Rutherford share fifth place on seven under par.

The final round of the Italian Challenge Open will begin at 7:20am with Blaauw and Rusch teeing it up in the final group at 12:00pm.

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