TURIN, Italy – Fredrik Andersson Hed leads the Italian Open by six strokes to be on the verge of winning his first European Tour title in his 245th tournament since making his debut in 1995.
The Swede made 10 birdies in a 9-under 63 in Saturday’s third round to total 17-under 199. But with preferred lies being used after days of heavy rain, he could not claim a course record at the Royal Park Roveri.
“I think I played the best golf of my life,” Andersson Hed said. “Not only was my driving and short game good, but my putting as well.
“I was a little bit tense for a couple of holes, but getting a birdie on the first green really helped me get over that. I am going to be a bit tense again going into the fourth round and, if I can get off to another good start, that will calm me down.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain made five straight birdies in a 68 to be second, while there were a group of four players at 206.
While Andersson Hed was still warming up, three British players – Phillip Price, Richie Ramsay and Richard McEvoy – each shot 65s to move within a shot of the Swede’s halfway lead despite only just making the cut.
“I actually wasn’t too worried about that,” Andersson Hed said. “Because I knew by scoring 66 in the second round it was possible to shoot low out there.
After four birdies in the first half of his round, Andersson Hed moved away from his rivals by playing the back nine in 30 shots.
Even when he was in trouble under the lip of a greenside bunker at the 17th, he still managed to produce a birdie with a delicate chip out of the sand.
Following on from his victory in February’s Dubai Desert Classic, Jimenez looks to be consolidating his claims for a fourth Ryder Cup appearance in October. However, after eight birdies in 10 holes he dropped three shots to drop back to 11 under.