Fitzpatrick maintains one-shot Italian Open lead

Fitzpatrick is aiming for a sixth European Tour win (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)
Fitzpatrick is aiming for a sixth European Tour win (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)

Rome (AFP) - Matthew Fitzpatrick birdied four of his final six holes on Saturday to hold onto a one-shot lead at the Italian Open heading into the final round.

The Englishman's strong finish was enough for a three-under-par third round of 68 which took him to 13-under for the tournament.

"To finish the way I did, was great," said Fitzpatrick, who is looking to win for the fifth straight year on the European Tour.

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"To put myself one in front going into that gives me a little bit of help... I'm just looking forward and ready to go already."

American Kurt Kitayama powered up the leaderboard into second place with a 65, while Scot Robert MacIntyre continued his impressive debut season on the European Tour by firing a 64 to move within two strokes of the lead.

The 23-year-old MacIntyre, who has broken into the world's top 100 and finished tied-sixth in July's British Open, is projected to leap to seventh in the season-long Race to Dubai standings.

"I'm not really looking at the world ranking now," he said.

"Just trying to run up that as fast as I can, to end the season really high. Obviously, Race to Dubai, if I get into position coming into the last three (events), you go for gold, don't you."

World number 31 Fitzpatrick started the round with a one-shot lead but looked in danger of slipping adrift after 10 holes in Rome. Instead, he remains in control as he bids for a sixth European Tour title.

His compatriot Matt Wallace and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger remain in contention, just three shots behind on 10-under.

It was a horrible day, though, for Justin Rose, as the former world number one plummeted down the leaderboard with a seven-over 78 in which he failed to make a single birdie.

Rose, who was only three shots back overnight, is now 13 off the pace and tied for 51st.

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