Hed poised to break tour duck
Fredrik Andersson Hed (AFP)
Turin - Sweden's Fredrik Andersson Hed was on the brink of his first European Tour victory at the Italian Open on Saturday while teenager Matteo Manassero's dream of winning on his professional debut was all but over.
The 17-year-old Italian had hoped to become the first player to triumph on his professional debut after his dazzling performance at the US Masters last month but his hopes effectively fizzled out in the third round when he carded a 72.
That left him on four-under 212, 13 shots behind Andersson Hed, and with a mountain to climb on the course beneath the Alpine foothills if he is to pull off a miracle on Sunday.
"I am a little upset about my second nine," he told reporters. "I was playing really well, very consistently.
"I am enjoying being watched by the big crowds rather than it worrying me and now I'm looking for a good finish tomorrow."
Andersson Hed produced a scintillating nine-under-par 63 to surge to 17-under-par 199, six strokes ahead of his playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain (68).
Britons Chris Wood (65), Peter Whiteford (66) and David Horsey (67) and Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts (69) are a further shot back.
A series of 10 birdies, including an outrageous one on the penultimate hole when he chipped in from right under the greenside bunker lip, showed that the 38-year-old from Halmstad is capable of breaking his tour duck at last.
"I played the best golf of my life today...both with my long and short game," the Swede told reporters.
"I was so full of self-confidence that I even read the line into the hole from the bunker on the 17th and just knew it was going in.
"I know six shots is a lot but I'm probably going to be a bit tense tomorrow. If I keep playing good it should calm me down."
Jimenez was neck and neck with Andersson Hed after a run of five successive birdies but the Spaniard then stumbled over the closing holes. Three bogeys in four holes from the 14th left him a great deal to do to catch the Swedish front-runner.
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.