TURIN, Italy – Marcus Fraser shot a 4-under 68 Saturday, giving the Australian a one-stroke lead over Italy's Francesco Molinari, Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren after three rounds of the Lindt Italian Open on the European Tour.
Fraser had a chip-in birdie on the sixth hole in a bogey-free round that left him at 11 under.
Molinari is trying to capture his national tournament for the second time, having won in Milan in 2006. He became a member of the Golf Club Torino, this week’s host course, when he was 8 years old.
Fraser says he faces a tough closing round with Molinari just one shot behind and the crowd pulling for him. But, he adds, he will have to play his game and "try and spoil the party, I suppose."
Molinari began the day tied for the lead and got off to the ideal start with a birdie on the par-5 opening hole after chipping to two feet, but a run of seven pars was then followed by a bogey on the ninth. The 30-year-old could only manage one birdie, on the 14th, on the back nine, but promised a more aggressive approach in the final round.
"It was a different round compared to the first two," Molinari said. "I didn't put the ball as close as the first two days but it could probably have easily been my first bogey-free round; I was just a bit unlucky on nine to find a piece of mud behind the ball. I could have been a bit more aggressive but there is still tomorrow to do that. I am still up there and will try to do well tomorrow."
Asked about the enormous amount of support he has been receiving all week, Molinari added: "It's crazy. I haven't seen that many people here in Italy ever. It's fantastic and they are all rooting for me. Maybe today they weren't as happy as the first two days but I will try to give them some more joy tomorrow."
Fraser also feels at home on the course after a bogey-free round sparked into life by chipping in for a birdie on the sixth.
"It's similar to what I grew up on before I moved to Melbourne," he said. "I grew up on a very tight, tree-lined golf course with tiny little greens and the emphasis was on getting it in play and hitting little shots around the greens and that's exactly what this demands. I think it's a brilliant golf course and wish we could play it every week of the year."
Colsaerts, who withdrew from the KLM Open last week after one round due to the flu, would have been sharing the lead with Fraser but for a three-putt bogey on the last.
"I played okay, missed a few chances and missed the one on the last so 70 is probably what I deserved," the world Number 54 said. "Sometimes I have short irons in and am not getting it as close as I want to but I am putting okay and it showed on the first day (when he shot 65) you can go low."