Turin, Italy – Marcus Fraser shot 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to grab a 1-stroke lead entering the final round of the Italian Open.
Fraser, who is seeking his third European Tour victory and first since the Ballantine's Championship in 2010, sits at 11-under 205 through 54 holes at Golf Club Torino.
"It's similar to what I grew up on before I moved to Melbourne," said Fraser. "I grew up on a very tight, tree-lined golf course with tiny little greens and the emphasis was on getting it in play and hitting little shots around the greens and that's exactly what this demands."
Overnight co-leader and local favorite Francesco Molinari carded a 71 to drop into a share of second place alongside his Ryder Cup teammate Nicolas Colsaerts (70) and Joakim Lagergren (67) at 10-under 206.
"It's fantastic and they are all rooting for me," Molinari said of his home- course advantage. "Maybe today they weren't as happy as the first two days, but I will try to give them some more joy tomorrow."
Simon Thornton and Felipe Aguilar, who shared the halfway lead with Molinari, carded matching 72s and slipped into a tie for fifth at minus-9.
Molinari, a member of the Golf Club Torino since he was just eight years old, got off to a welcome start, chipping to within two feet and tapping in for birdie at the par-5 first, but a run of seven pars and a bogey at the ninth opened the door for his competitors.
Fraser started the day two strokes off the lead, but he steadily played himself into contention with birdies at the sixth and ninth during a bogey- free outward nine.
Around the turn, Fraser birdied to 10th and 12th to reach 11-under and grab a 1-stroke lead over Colsaerts, who had three birdies and a bogey through 11 holes.
Fraser parred out to stay at minus-11 and Colsaerts briefly caught him with a birdie at the 14th, but the Belgian bogeyed the par-4 last to drop into a share of second.
Molinari closed with one birdie and eight pars during his inward nine, while world No. 590 Lagergren mixed eight birdies and three bogeys during his second straight 67.
"It was a different round compared to the first two," Molinari said. "I didn't put the ball as close as the first two days, but it could probably have easily been my first bogey-free round; I was just a bit unlucky on No. 9 to find a piece of mud behind the ball.
"I could have been a bit more aggressive, but there is still tomorrow to do that. I am still up there and will try to do well tomorrow."
NOTES: Fraser's other European Tour victory came at the Russian Open in 2003 ... Molinari won this event in 2006. He is a three-time European Tour winner ... Colsaerts is a two-time victor on the European Tour. He withdrew from the KLM Open last week after one round due to the flu ... Sixteen-year-old Italian amateur Renato Paratore is tied for ninth place at 7-under-par 209 ... The highest ranked player in the field and another local favorite, Matteo Manassero, is also tied for ninth at 7-under ... Defending champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is tied for 46th at 2-under 214.