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Golf: Fitzpatrick retains one-shot lead at Italian Open

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(Reuters) – England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick finished with an impressive four birdies in his final six holes on Saturday to hold a one-shot advantage heading into the final round of the Italian Open.

Fitzpatrick, currently sixth in European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings, carded a three-under-par 68 in the third round to move up to 13-under overall at the Olgiata Club in Rome.

The 25-year-old overnight leader was one-over through 12 holes but rallied impressively with birdies on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

“(My caddie) Billy just kept talking me through it, saying just be patient,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I said to him down the hill on 12, it didn’t feel like I should be one over. It felt like the way my swing felt, I didn’t hit as many good as good shots as I would have liked around the turn, so that cost me a little bit.

“But to finish the way I did, was great.”

Heading into Sunday’s final round, Fitzpatrick’s nearest rival is American Kurt Kitayama, who continued his steady progress with a bogey-free 65 to move 12-under overall.

“It was a good day. I missed a few greens but was able to get up-and-down and made some good putts,” Kitayama, a two-time European Tour winner, said.

“Playing bogey-free is always good, especially out here.

“This is a big event. Winning at any level, even smaller events, you still have to draw back on those memories and those situations, because the feeling is still going to be similar.”

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre was two strokes off the lead with a seven-under 64 as he remains in contention for a maiden European Tour title.

It was a day to forget for world number five Justin Rose after he recorded seven bogeys in a round of 78, slipping 13 shots adrift.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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