05 Sep 2021 | Professional golf |

Gritty Lee clings to Italian hope

by PGA of Australia

Min Woo Lee Rome image
Min Woo Lee acknowledges the crowd during his third round in Rome today. Photo: Getty

By Tony Webeck

He saw tee shots sail left and right yet Min Woo Lee remains in the hunt for his second European Tour title of the season following the third round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open in Rome.

A week after his twin brother claimed the Omega European Masters, Dane Nicolai Hojgaard shot 65 on day three at Marco Simone Golf Club to take a one stroke lead into the final round at 13-under par, England’s Tommy Fleetwood (67) and South African Daniel Van Tonder (66) sharing second at 12 under followed by Finland’s Mikko Korhonen (68) a further shot back in outright fourth.

Starting the third round with a two-shot buffer Lee now finds himself in fifth position at 10-under par but his even par round of 71 was a wild ride that threatened to derail his tournament hopes completely. Bogeys at the second and third holes gave up the advantage he began the day with but he was able to right the ship with birdies at five and six, playing an exquisite wedge into the short par-four fifth that only narrowly missed dropping into the cup for eagle.

He followed the birdie at six with pars and seven and eight before a tee shot that hooked left dramatically found the water and led to a double-bogey seven at the par-five ninth.

Hitting just 50 per cent of fairways for the day, Lee dropped another shot at the par-four 10th before launching a late rescue mission, picking up four birdies in his final eight holes despite continuing to struggle to bring his swing under control.

The 23-year-old dropped a shot at the par-three 17th but a closing birdie keeps him within reach of the leaders and with some late momentum to carry into the final round.

Fellow Australian Scott Hend bounced back from a 74 on day two to shoot one-under 70 in the third round to sit in a tie for 26th while Queenslander Maverick Antcliff withdrew after nine holes of his third round.

Elsewhere in Europe Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou (77) has dropped into a share of 11th at the Creekhouse Ladies Open in Sweden, Dimi Papadatos is inside the top 15 heading into the final round of the British Challenge on the Challenge Tour and Kristalle Blum has finished tied for 24th at the Flumserberg Ladies Open on the LET Access Series.

Cameron Smith’s hopes of a maiden Australian FedEx Cup triumph took a hit with a third round of 3-over 73 at the PGA Tour Tour Championship that saw him fall to a tie for 13th while Rhein Gibson needs a low final round to move up from his current position of 28th on the leaderboard to earn one of the 25 Finals cards on offer at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Italian Open leaderboard

US Tour Championship leaderboard

LET scoring

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