Molinari Clarke ahead of the pack at Loch Lomond


European Tour

LUSS, Scotland – Edoardo Molinari takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Barclays Scottish Open after shooting a third round 8-under 63 on Saturday, including an eagle and seven birdies.

The Italian is 15-under overall at Loch Lomond, ahead of Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke on 14-under.

Molinari, the former US Amateur Champion, could also face competition from his younger brother, Francesco Molinari, who shot 67 and is tied for third on 8 under with Sweden’s Peter Hedblom (69).

Edoardo Molinari said playing with his brother in the final round threesome could help him lift the $745,000 first place check.

“We may have the rivalry of brothers out on the golf course, but we are also very close as we showed when we won the World Cup last year,” he said. “Francesco will be trying hard to win and if he could get a couple of early birdies and have a chance of winning himself that would be fantastic.”

Edoardo Molinari has yet to win a European strokeplay event while Clarke has 12 to his name. But Clarke has not won in two years, has slipped to 179th in the world and recently said he was considering retiring from golf.

Clarke shot 67 Saturday even though he had seen Molinari’s run of birdies erode the three-shot lead he held at halfway of the tournament.

“With a three shot lead and shooting a 67 I could not have asked for more,” Clarke said. “Apart from my drive at the 5th hole, and trying to get too clever with a chip at the 13th, I would not have taken back one of my shots. But Edoardo had a brilliant round.”

Victory will not be the only goal for Clarke on Sunday. If he can finish in the top five ahead of Hedblom, he will earn a late qualifying place to play in the British Open starting on Thursday.

US Open champion Graeme McDowell struggled to make the cut with two level 71s but showed signs of getting back into form in the third round.

He picked up five birdies in 13 holes before finding water when the ball spun back off the 14th green and then dropped another shot with a wayward drive two holes later.

“I am still only 70-75 (percent) fit, and I ran out of steam a bit,” McDowell said. “But there were a lot of good swings out there.”