De Jager edges closer to Italian Open leaders

Six shots is not an insurmountable lead when there has already been a 60 on the course this week, and Louis de Jager carded a five-under 67 on Saturday to position himself for a charge in the European Tour’s Italian Open.

He moved to 13-under for the tournament, and, while the final round is shaping up to be a straight shoot-out between co-leaders Laurie Canter and Ross McGowan who are on 19-under, a low round from De Jager, who already has a pair of 68s under his belt, could throw the cat among the pigeons.

De Jager’s driving accuracy was right up there in the third round as he hit 78.5 percent of the fairways, and he hit 72.2 percent of greens in regulation as he made six birdies and a bogey as he climbed into a share of eighth ahead of the final round.

Dean Burmester also stayed in touch with the lead, finishing 54 holes in third place on 16-under, three shots back. He carded a four-under 68 with an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys to reach 16-under for the tournament, and, with his big-hitting, things could go very right for him in a final-round charge.

McGowan, who was runner-up in the 2014 Cape Town Open and champion in the 2015 Mopani Redpath Zambia Open on the Sunshine Tour, has had just one European Tour top 10 in the last four seasons but won last year’s D+D REAL Czech Challenge on the European Challenge Tour for a first professional victory since 2015.

“A win would probably change the outlook for the rest of the year, next year and hopefully for the next few years after that,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger so it would be quite handy to win one nice and early.

“Definitely my putting has been my best strength this week. It’s helped me in the first two rounds when I hit maybe six fairways. Even today I hit more fairways but not enough, but I rolled a few nice ones in – a couple of 30-footers – and that kept the score going.”

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