There were 19 birdies and two eagles on the 18th at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome in the third round of the European Tour’s DS Automobiles Italian Open on Saturday. Daniel van Tonder made bogey, but he’s still in a share of second ahead of the final round.
Despite the two miscalculations he made on the par-five closing hole, and the resulting three-putt bogey he made there, the six birdies he had made up until that point saw him finish on 12-under-par through 54 holes. That put him one stroke off the lead which was held by Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark. And his 66 had him sharing second with Tommy Fleetwood.
Van Tonder made three birdies in his opening nine of a round that started early as the organisers tried to get it out of the way with electrical storms forecast for the afternoon. He picked up shots on two, five and seven to turn in three-under 32. He kept up the pressure on the top of the leaderboard with birdies on 12, 14 and 16.
Then he hit his approach short and right of the 18th, so, instead of having an outside shot at an eagle and a probable simple birdie and the lead, he was faced with having to conjure something out of a difficult lie. He chose a low chip instead of a flop shot to a tough pin, and ended up three-putting from the resultant 80 feet.
Interestingly, it was his worst round of the tournament for putting: He had 26 putts in each of the first two rounds, and 29 in the third. Should he get back his putting mojo in the final round, he will have the satisfaction of looking back on excellent accuracy off the tee and to the green in the third round.
George Coetzee carded a four-under 67 in the third round to move into a share of 15th on six-under for the tournament. Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt each signed for a one-under 70 to be on two-under in a share of 39th.