Alexander Levy produced a brilliant front nine to surge into a one-shot lead midway through the third round of the weather-affected Italian Open at Golf Club Milano, where Danny Willett and home hero Francesco Molinari head a high quality chasing pack.
The Frenchman had started round three six shots behind second-round leader Chris Paisley, but eagled the first and turned in 29, before adding three pars on the back nine to sit on 14 under after 12 holes when play was suspended due to darkness at 7.26pm.
“I started well, it was really good to play like that today”, said Levy. “I played well the first two days, but I started really strongly today. Good start, nice eagle on the first, nice birdie on the second, and I kept going like that all day really. I’m really happy with the way I’ve played golf the last three weeks. I was injured for three or four months, and to come back like that is really nice. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but it’s just nice to be playing some really good golf again.”
Paisley turned in level par to sit a shot off the lead alongside the 2006 Italian Open champion Molinari, Masters Tournament winner Willett and his fellow Englishman Chris Hanson.
Molinari was four under through ten holes when the hooter sounded, whilst a birdie on the ninth hole moved Hanson into a share of second alongside Paisley and Willett, who only had one birdie to show for his afternoon exertions after his putter turned distinctly cold.
“It was tricky to read the greens, with the fading light it’s always tough to get the pace. I was rolling it pretty good, I just didn’t quite get it going, and shaved a few holes. So it was a bit frustrating, but at least the weather was a bit kinder today, said Danny Willett.
“We just need another day like that tomorrow, don’t we? It’s been a shame really, because the first three days of practice were beautiful, and then we had a couple of days that were just horror shows. Hopefully, if the tournament goes ahead for 72 holes, we need a real good day of weather tomorrow, because there are a lot of guys with 27 holes, at least, left to play. It was just a frustrating nine holes really. I hit it average, not great, but tomorrow is another day. It’s another nice early start, but I’m getting used to them now!”
Only eight players managed to sign their cards before darkness descended in Monza, meaning the remainder of the field will return at 7.30am to finish their rounds, before embarking on a fourth and final round on Sunday afternoon.