Graeme McDowell slips back as Lee Slattery leads Italian Open

Northern Irishman could only manage a level par 71 on a scoreable day at Gardagolf

Lee Slattery of England plays his second shot on the 18th hole during day three of the Italian Open in Brescia, Italy. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Lee Slattery of England plays his second shot on the 18th hole during day three of the Italian Open in Brescia, Italy. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

Graeme McDowell endured a frustrating day at the Italian Open where his level par round of 71 was only good enough for a tie for 17th going into the final day as Lee Slattery carded a 62 to lead the way at 16 under.

McDowell started the day in a tie for the lead but struggled to find the form that saw him shoot consecutive 66s, remaining at 10 under and now lying six off the lead.

Three birdies and three bogeys added up to McDowell’s 71 while Paul Dunne enjoyed better fortunes – shooting a 67 to move up to eight under and into a tie for 35th.

After making the cur on the mark the Greystones man carded a flawless third round of four birdies and 14 pars, leaving him in position to pick up valuable world ranking points on Sunday. However, barring something very special, it won’t be enough to bump him up from 71st into the top 60 of the world ranking and therefore secure a place at the US Open. Dunne will instead head for Woburn on Monday for international qualifying, alongside Pádraig Harrington.

The three-time Major winner got off to a quick start on Saturday in Brescia with birdies at the third and fourth but that was as good as it got as two birdies and two bogeys on his way in added up to a round of 69 to leave him at seven under par.

However, it was Slattery who lit the tournament up on Saturday as the 39-year-old from Southport fired eight birdies and an eagle from 10 feet on the seventh in his nine-under-par round.

A solitary bogey after a miscued tee shot on the 12th leaves Slattery 16 under for the week, one ahead of home favourite and last week’s BMW PGA Championship winner Francesco Molinari and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.

Halfway leader Martin Kaymer and England’s Danny Willett — both major champions but short of form of late — are a shot further back after rounds of 68 and 67 respectively.

Slattery made birdies at the fourth and sixth before taking advantage of an excellent approach to the seventh.

The two-time European Tour winner made another gain at the 10th and, after his blemish on the 12th where he was fortunate his tee shot stopped just short of the water, bounced back with a hat-trick of birdies before converting from 12 feet at the last.

“It was very relaxing, playing with two good guys, Laurie Canter and Richard Sterne. (I) know them both quite well, and we just enjoyed it,” Slattery said.

“When you get in that zone, you just keep making birdies. It’s a great feeling.

“I’ll just try and relax and just enjoy it tomorrow.”

Olesen made seven birdies before dropping his only shot of the day on the 16th after three-putting for a round of 65, while Molinari — twice a winner of his national open — carded one bogey against six birdies, including a lengthy effort on the 18th which delighted the locals in Brescia.

Collated third round scores in the Italian Open, Gardagolf, Italy (Britain unless stated, Irish in bold, par 71):

197 Lee Slattery 66 69 62

198 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 66 66 66, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 65 68 65

199 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 68 63 68, Danny Willett 65 67 67

200 Haotong Li (Chn) 68 65 67, Andrew Sullivan 67 68 65, Jordan Smith 67 68 65, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 65 67 68

201 Scott Hend (Aus) 68 66 67, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 69 68 64, Ian Poulter 67 68 66, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 65 67 69

202 Robert Rock 63 70 69, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 66 68 68, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa) 67 70 65

203 Dean Burmester (Rsa) 70 67 66, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 66 66 71, Charlie Ford 65 71 67, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 67 67 69, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 68 69 66, Bradley Dredge 68 68 67

204 Andrew Johnston 69 69 66, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 66 71 67, Alex Noren (Swe) 70 68 66, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 70 68 66, Callum Shinkwin 66 71 67, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 69 68 67, Oliver Fisher 68 68 68, Tommy Fleetwood 68 67 69, Eddie Pepperell 67 71 66, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 66 71 67, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 70 68 66. Lee Westwood 66 70 68

205 Adrien Saddier (Fra) 68 67 70, Paul Dunne (Irl) 69 69 67, Thomas Detry (Bel) 69 66 70, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 70 66 69, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 68 65 72, James Morrison 67 68 70, Aaron Rai 67 71 67

206 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 68 68, David Howell 69 66 71, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 68 68 70, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 71 68, Brett Rumford (Aus) 70 68 68, Laurie Canter 63 72 71, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 68 70 68, Ryan Evans 67 69 70, David Lipsky (USA) 68 67 71, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 69 68, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 71 66 69

207 Matt Wallace 65 72 70, Ashun Wu (Chn) 70 67 70, Josh Geary (Nzl) 68 69 70, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 67 71 69, David Drysdale 68 68 71, Adam Bland (Aus) 70 66 71, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 69 69, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 65 68 74, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 68 69 70, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 63 72 72, Matthew Fitzpatrick 66 70 71

208 Richard Bland 70 64 74, Chris Wood 67 71 70, Alexander Levy (Fra) 68 70 70, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 69 69 70, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 69 69 70, Austin Connelly (Can) 69 68 71, Ross McGowan 70 67 71

209 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 70 71, Daniel Brooks 67 71 71, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 70 67 72

210 Andres Romero (Arg) 67 70 73, Jamie Donaldson 66 72 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 66 69 75, Gavin Green (Mal) 71 67 72

211 Daniel Im (USA) 66 70 75, Gregory Havret (Fra) 68 69 74

212 Peter Hanson (Swe) 68 70 74, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 68 70 74, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) 67 67 78

217 Scott Jamieson 69 69 79

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