LUSS, Scotland (AP) — Edoardo Molinari of Italy shot an 8-under 63 Saturday to take a one stroke lead over Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland going into the final day of the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
Molinari was at 15-under 198 after a round that included an eagle and seven birdies. Clarke had a 67.
Molinari’s younger brother, Francesco, had a 67 and was tied for third with Peter Hedblom of Sweden (69) seven shots back. John Daly was in a three-way tie for ninth at 4-under after a 69.
“We may have the rivalry of brothers out on the golf course, but we are also very close as we showed when we won the World Cup last year,” Edoardo Molinari said. “Francesco will be trying hard to win and if he could get a couple of early birdies and have a chance of winning himself that would be fantastic.”
Edoardo Molinari has yet to win a European stroke-play event, while Clarke has 12 to his name. But Clarke, who led by three strokes after the second round, has not won in two years, has slipped to 179th in the world and recently said he was considering retiring from golf.
“With a three-shot lead and shooting a 67 I could not have asked for more,” Clarke said. “Apart from my drive at the fifth hole, and trying to get too clever with a chip at the 13th, I would not have taken back one of my shots. But Edoardo had a brilliant round.”
Victory will not be the only goal for Clarke on Sunday. If he can finish in the top five ahead of Hedblom, he will earn a late qualifying spot to play in the British Open starting Thursday.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell struggled to make the cut with two 71s, but showed signs of getting back into form in the third round.
He picked up five birdies in 13 holes before finding water when the ball spun back off the 14th green and then dropped another shot with a wayward drive two holes later.
“I am still only 70-75 (percent) fit, and I ran out of steam a bit,” McDowell said. “But there were a lot of good swings out there.”