Wiesberger roars to Rolex Series glory in Rome

Bernd Wiesberger claimed a second Rolex Series title to make it a hat-trick of victories on the 2019 Race to Dubai at the Italian Open.

Bernd Wiesberger 

The Austrian started the day three shots behind overnight leader Matthew Fitzpatrick but carded a bogey free 65 to get to 16 under and beat the Englishman by one shot.

Wiesberger missed the last seven months of the 2018 season with a wrist injury and when he claimed his fifth European Tour victory at May's Made in Denmark presented by FREJA, he was already one of the stories of the season.

His maiden Rolex Series triumph in a twilight play-off at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open moved him to the summit of the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex and he now returns there after joining Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Justin Rose and Danny Willett as a multiple Rolex Series champion.

The 34-year-old also moves to a career high 22nd in the Official World Golf Ranking and boosts his chances of making a Ryder Cup debut in 2020.

"It's been a great summer for me," he said. "I've had a lot of good golf shown and a lot of progress after coming back from the last year.

"I've won three times this year and it's been the same every time, I've just really enjoyed my time and I'm positive to be back out there because I know how tough it was when I had to withdraw from these great events.

"I've played really well in the right events in Ireland and the Scottish and here this week which helps getting up there in the Race to Dubai. I feel excited about what is ahead of us in these last four events."

For Fitzpatrick, a fourth second place finish in 2019 moves him to fourth in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex as he seeks to claim a sixth European Tour title and extend his run of winning seasons to five.

"It was a bit rubbish," he said. "To lose by one is obviously very disappointing.

"I think I've played well when I've been up there on a Sunday, just other people really keep grinding and I keep coming up from behind. It is what it is. It's still a great week, I'm here to win and not here to just make up the numbers."

American Kurt Kitayama finished at 12 under after a 71, a shot clear of England's Andrew Johnston, Scot Robert MacIntyre and another Austrian in Matthias Schwab.

Fitzpatrick recovered from a poor tee shot on the first to make a par but replied with a stunner to seven feet on the par three second for a first birdie of the day and a two shot lead.

He then made six pars in a row and that opened the door for Wiesberger to surge up the leaderboard, starting with a long putt on the fifth.

An approach to five feet at the sixth and a 20 foot right to lefter on the next made it a hat-trick of gains, and he took advantage of the par five ninth to share the lead.

Fitzpatrick went the other way at the turn, sending his tee shot out of bounds to surrender a double bogey and Wiesberger led by two.

Smart par saves on the 11th and 12th maintained that cushion and a tee shot to 15 feet moved him three ahead at the 14th.

An excellent approach to eight feet saw Fitzpatrick hit back at the 13th but Wiesberger put his tee shot inside six feet on the 16th to edge back three ahead.

Fitzpatrick took advantage of the par five 15th to trim the lead once more and a two putt birdie on the 17th had him within one but he could not make a gain on the last to take it to a play-off.

Kitayama - already a two time winner in his rookie season - made two birdies and two bogeys as he looks to close the gap on MacIntyre in the race to be the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

He moves to 15th in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex but MacIntyre is up to seventh after also carding a 71 with three birdies and three bogeys.

Schwab dropped a single shot in a 66, while Johnston recovered from a bogey on the third with four birdies in a 68.

Home favourite Francesco Laporta was at nine under alongside India's Shubhankar Sharma and Englishman Matt Wallace.

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