Italian Open: Bernd Wiesberger beats Matt Fitzpatrick

Bernd Wiesberger
Bernd Wiesberger

Bernd Wiesberger held off the challenge of England's Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third win of the season at the Italian Open.

Final leaderboard

-16 Wiesberger

-15 Fitzpatrick

-12 Kitayama

-11 MacIntyre, Schwab, Johnston

Final round report

Bernd Wiesberger held off the challenge of England's Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third win of the season at the Italian Open.

The Austrian carded a bogey-free 65 in Rome to overturn a three-shot deficit and beat overnight leader Fitzpatrick by one - condemning the 2016 Ryder Cup star to a fifth runners-up finish of the 2019 campaign worldwide.

Fitzpatrick had started the day with a one-shot lead but a double-bogey after going out of bounds off the tee on the ninth proved costly.

The Yorkshireman picked up three shots on the back nine to finish but could only par the last after leaving himself 35 feet for a birdie that would have moved him to 15 under and into a play-off.

"It was a bit crap," he told europeantour.com after carding a closing 69. "To lose by one is obviously very disappointing.

"I think I've played well when I've been up there on a Sunday, just other people really keep grinding and I keep coming up from behind.

"It is what it is. It's still a great week, I'm here to win and not here to just make up the numbers."

Wiesberger made a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth and added another on the ninth to share the lead before Fitzpatrick's error left him two ahead.

Excellent tee-shots on the 14th and 16th handed the the 34-year-old two more birdies and a 16-under total.

Wiesberger missed the last seven months of the 2018 season with a wrist injury but now sits at the top of the Race to Dubai and has a flying start in his quest to make a Ryder Cup debut in 2020.

"It's been a great summer for me," he said. "I've had a lot of good golf shown and a lot of progress after coming back from the last year.

"I've won three times this year and it's been the same every time, I've just really enjoyed my time and I'm positive to be back out there because I know how tough it was when I had to withdraw from these great events."

American Kurt Kitayama finished at 12 under, a shot clear of England's Andrew Johnston, Scot Robert MacIntyre and Austria's Matthias Schwab.

Third round report

Matt Fitzpatrick finished with a flourish to regain his one-shot lead ahead of the final round of the Italian Open.

After a bogey at the 10th saw him fall to one-over for the round, Fitzpatrick found himself three off the clubhouse target set by Kurt Kitayama.

The American had posted a round of 65 which only Robert MacIntyre and Jeunghun Wang bettered, but birdies at the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes ensured that Fitzpatrick remains the man to catch.

Kitayama, twice a winner this season, is alone in second and one shot ahead of MacIntyre, who currently leads in the race to be named European Tour rookie of the year.

The battle between them looks set to go all the way to Dubai and it's Kitayama who has the most slender of edges here, after a blemish-free round in which he made three birdies on the front-nine and three on the back.

"It was a good day," confirmed Kitayama. "I missed a few greens but was able to get up-and-down and made some good putts. Playing bogey-free is always good, especially out here."

MacIntyre came home in 31 to shoot 64, the joint-low round of the week, as he tries again to get off the mark at this level having been a regular contender all season.

Matt Wallace and Bernd Wiesberger share fourth place on 10-under, with Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen a shot further back after he dropped a shot at the last following a brilliant outward nine of just 30 shots.

Fitzpatrick also started brightly, making birdie at the first, but having given that shot back he made the turn where he had started the day.

A further bogey at the 10th meant Fitzpatrick was at risk of falling out of contention altogether, and he later credited two par saves at the 11th and 12th holes as he recovered well to reach 13-under.

"(My caddie) Billy (Foster) just kept talking me through it, saying just be patient. 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. Put me back. But to finish the way I did, was great.

"The par saves on 11 and 12 were huge. They were really, really important, and they felt really good, as well, because it's something I've been working on, my short game, obviously everyone is always working on something, but just to see it pay off today, particularly under the pressure was good.

"To put myself one in front going into tomorrow gives me a little bit of help, but yeah, I'm just looking forward and ready to go already."

Second round report

Matt Fitzpatrick will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Italian Open, thanks to a serene second-round 65 on Friday.

The Englishman oozed control from the tee in a largely error-free round which started with a birdie and ended with a clear advantage from Denmark's JB Hansen.

Justin Rose is part of a large group on three-under after he made a double-bogey at the eighth, his penultimate hole, with home hopes appearing to rest with Andrea Pavan after Francesco Molinari's early exit.

Open champion Shane Lowry was another big-name casualty but there are proven players galore in contention, including Rolex Series winner Bernd Wiesberger and Graeme McDowell, as Olgiata looks set to serve up an entertaining denouement.

Fitzpatrick will head into the third round as the man to catch after making seven birdies, including three over the closing five holes of a round in which he drove the ball particularly well.

Already a five-time European Tour winner, he'll have eyes on an overdue success in 2019, having lost a play-off in Germany and again finished runner-up in Sweden.

While this is familiar territory for a player long considered among the most ruthless youngsters on the circuit, for Hansen it's another step forward in a career which has so far enjoyed limited success at this level.

The Dane at least arrived in form, after a top-10 finish in Spain, and in keeping with his profile he's mixed birdies with an eagle and five bogeys to reach nine-under, one off the lead.

Rose stands out among the chasing pack, albeit having relied on his putter in reaching seven-under where he's joined by McDowell after a timely eagle at the par-five 17th.

First round report

Finland's Pulkkanen is best known for his big-hitting and a questionable choice of headwear, but Thursday's opener at Olgiata saw him make putt after putt until a final opportunity slid by at the ninth, his last hole.

Even so, Pulkkanen's 64 was the pick of the morning scores as he matched his own lowest round on the European Tour in this valuable Rolex Series event, and it was only Rory Sabbatini who came close to matching it as he shot 65 to sit alone in second.

Kurt Kitayama equalled Pulkkanen's seven birdies as he carded a round of 66, as did Justin Rose, while Bernd Wiesberger kept a bogey off his card with the five birdies putting him in the group on five-under in third place.

Joining them are Shubhankar Sharma, who mixed in an eagle with fur birdies and a bogey, while Joost Luiten found the putting touch to match his impressive long-game as he too shot five-under-par.

Andrew Johnston made the tougher front-nine look comparatively easy, playing what was his second nine in 31 to reach four-under, and he was joined by Matt Fitzpatrick after birdies at the eighth and ninth holes.

Fitzpatrick had been cruising along before a double-bogey at the fifth disrupted his progress, but the five-time European Tour winner bounced back impressively in a round of 67.

Playing in the marquee group behind Fitzpatrick, it was Matt Wallace who outshone Open champions Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry in a round of 69.

Wallace made four birdies and two bogeys as he battled his way to the clubhouse two shots ahead of Molinari who, having bogeyed his first hole, the 10th, had to wait until a closing birdie to get back to level par.

Lowry meanwhile was two-under through six holes but three-over thereafter in a one-over-par round of 72 which extends his run of slow starts of late.

The afternoon wave could not find a way to match Pulkkanen's target - with the Finn looking for his European Tour breakthrough towards the end of a poor season, one in which his best effort so far is eighth place in comparatively weak company at the Trophee Hassan.

"My putter was really hot today," Pulkkanen admitted. "I made a lot of putts, especially on my front nine. I made a lot of long putts. It was perfect greens, so easy to make them.

"I didn't feel so comfortable with my warm-up today. It was a little dark on the range and I didn't hit it well but it was a super score, so I'm really happy."

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