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Leader Nicolai Højgaard aiming to emulate twin Rasmus

Leader Nicolai Højgaard aiming to emulate twin Rasmus

Nicolai Højgaard has his sights set on following his twin brother into the winner's circle after firing a spotless 65 on day three of the 2021 DS Automobiles Italian Open to take a slender one shot lead into the final round.


Rasmus Højgaard won last week's Omega European Masters in Switzerland to become a three time European Tour champion at the age of just 20.

And after making a huge move up the leaderboard on Saturday, Nicolai has an outstanding opportunity to make the Højgaards the first brothers to win back to back events on the European Tour.

Højgaard produced the shot of the day at the par four 16th, coming close to holing his tee shot for an unlikely albatross.

He instead made a close range eagle there to add to the four birdies he already had on his card, and would head into the clubhouse on 13 under par.

Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel van Tonder had joined Højgaard at the summit around the time he tidied up for par on the 18th green, but they each dropped their only shot of the day late in their rounds to slip back to 12 under.

They share second place, one stroke ahead of Finn Mikko Korhonen in fourth.

Højgaard began the day three shots behind halfway leader Min Woo Lee but soon set about closing the gap, rolling in birdie putts from around ten feet at the fifth and seventh to get to nine under.

The 20-year-old then caught fire on the back nine, making back to back gains at the 11th and 12th to move within a shot of the lead.

He continued to create good chances, with his birdie effort at the 14th shaving the edge of the hole but staying above ground, before another decent try slid by on the 15th.

The young Dane was not to be denied at the 16th, though, driving the green and leaving himself no more than four feet for an eagle which gave him the outright lead.

After safely parring the difficult 17th, Højgaard set up another good chance at the last, only to miss his birdie putt from 12 feet.

He said: "I'm really happy. I played overall pretty good.

"I wanted to get up and down on the 18th to post 14 under but I'm really happy with minus 13.

"I would really love to win. Seeing Rasmus win is a big motivation.

"I'm just trying to follow in his steps a little bit. Hopefully I can get it done tomorrow."

Ryder Cup star Fleetwood made a patient start to his third round, carding pars at the opening eight holes before notching his first birdie of the day at the ninth.

After producing a great save on the tenth, Fleetwood reeled off birdies at the 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th to earn a share of the lead on 13 under before a bogey on the 17th dropped him back a place.

The Englishman is looking forward to Sunday's final round. He said: "I'm happy. I stayed patient through the front nine. There were a few people that got off to a really fast start but I didn't really have many chances - I had a couple of chances on the fifth and seventh that didn't go in.

"But I felt like my putts on the eighth and tenth - the two up-and-downs I made there - were so important, just not to make a bogey and not to fall backwards at that point.

"I felt like those were the two most important putts of the day.

"I'm happy with where I'm at in the tournament. It's nice to come down the stretch on a Saturday in contention knowing you're fighting for your place so high up on the board going into Sunday, and I've got Sunday to look forward to.

"I'm excited to go into a Sunday in contention and see where my game's at really. It'll be a nice time to come into form so I'll keep trying."

Van Tonder started strongly on Saturday, turning in 32 after making birdies at the second, fifth and seventh.

He picked up further shots on the 12th, 14th and 16th to grab a share of the lead but carded his only bogey of the day on the last to fall back to 12 under.

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