Rock fires 68, pulls 2 shots clear at Italian Open

Rock fires 68, pulls 2 shots clear at Italian Open

Robert Rock made five birdies and a bogey on Saturday.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

FIANO, Italy (AP) — Overnight leader Robert Rock stretched his lead to two shots at the Italian Open on Saturday, shooting a second straight 4-under 68 in a bid for his first European Tour title.

The Englishman improved to 16-under 200 thanks to five birdies at the Royal Park Roveri club, leaving him clear of a group of six players tied for second.

Italian Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari was among the chasing pack, also posting a second straight 68 to sit at 202 with Niclas Fasth, Pablo Larrazabal, Jbe Kruger, Joost Luiten and Gary Boyd.

Sweden’s Fasth had a 64, while Italian teen Matteo Manassero dropped into a three-way tie for 12th with a 70.

Rock, who has three runner-up finishes in his career, has changed his putting grip and it’s his form on the greens that is making the difference in Italy.

“I am confident because of my putting this week. I haven’t putted like this in a long time,” Rock said.

The Englishman, who has qualified to play in his first U.S. Open next week, followed up an early birdie on No. 2 with a bogey on the par-3 4th after missing the green off the tee.

He made amends by picking up four shots between Nos. 8-13 to stay in front.

Steve Webster of England may be down in a tie for 37th but he had the shot of the day, holing his 5-wood approach to the par-5 11th for an albatross.

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