Matthew Fitzpatrick fighting to keep streak alive in Italian Open

Molinari toils as Pulkkanen leads Italian Open

Molinari toils as Pulkkanen leads Italian Open

Just felt much more comfortable with my irons once I was out there.

Fitzpatrick posted four birdies and one bogey on the front nine and picked up three shots in his final five holes to move to 10-under par for the tournament at Olgiata Golf Club.

The 2018 Open Championship victor, Molinari has twice triumphed in Italy, but he struggled to make inroads on Thursday with a round that contained two birdies and two bogeys.

"I haven't played that well in the Rolex (Series) tournaments so it's a kind of a new situation as well, there's a long way to go but I feel good about my game".

"Fitzpatrick is sixth in the Race to Dubai rankings and is looking to regain his spot in Europe's Ryder Cup team after missing out on the competition previous year".

That gave the 29-year-old a one-shot lead over Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini, with world number five Justin Rose part of a five-strong group a shot further back on five under.

"I had a poor finish, but there was some good stuff as well", said Rose, who made a double bogey at the eighth hole, his 17th, in a 2-under 69. I always tended to make some birdies after that. "It was a little dark on the range and I didn't hit it well but it was a super score, so I'm really happy". He shot a 6-under 66 to get in the mix.

The former Ryder Cup player has won in each of the past four seasons, including twice in 2016, but has yet to register a European Tour victory in 2019, having finished runner up in both the BMW International Open in June and the Scandinavian Invitation in August. Obviously this is a golf course that I think accuracy is of prime importance out here. "You've got to grind it around a little bit, and I'm looking forward to being in contention this weekend".

Home hope Francesco Molinari, bidding for his third Italian Open title, hit a level-par 71, along with England's Paul Casey.

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