Edoardo Molinari in Open qualification contention at Scottish Open

By Sports Desk July 11, 2019

Edoardo Molinari was a spectator when his brother Francesco won The Open last year, but he will be hoping to join him at Royal Portrush after surging into contention at the Scottish Open.

An eight-under 63 sees the Italian sit in a four-way tie for the lead after round one, alongside fellow Open hopefuls Romain Wattel and Nino Bertasio, with Matt Kuchar – runner-up at the 2017 championship at Royal Birkdale – completing the quartet.

The leading three players in the top 10 who are not already exempt will earn a spot at the world's oldest major in Northern Ireland next week.

"I'm in a good place at the minute," said Edoardo Molinari. "It seems like every week I'm playing better.

"I'm building something every week and when you play golf like this, it's quite easy but then everything can change in a very short amount of time.

"You just have to be careful and keep doing the same things and hopefully the results continue to improve."

There are some big names in action at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy among them.

He shot a 67 to sit alongside Justin Thomas on four under, while Rickie Fowler had to settle for an even-par round that included an eagle three at the 16th.

Henrik Stenson, another former Open winner, was blemish-free in his fine round of 65.

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    Wiesberger had been solid if unspectacular all week, sitting three shots behind overnight leader Fitzpatrick heading into the final round in Rome.

    But the Austrian found his best form over the last 18 holes as several around him stuttered, with Fitzpatrick only managing a 69 - his highest score of the tournament.

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    The 34-year-old also returned to the top of the Race to Dubai standings while climbing to 22nd in the world rankings.

    "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 injury 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.

    "I feel excited about what is ahead of us in these last four events."

    Fitzpatrick was far from the only player to allow Wiesberger through, as both Kurt Kitayama (12 under in third) and Robert MacIntyre (11 under in joint-fourth) played even-par rounds.

    Fitzpatrick said: "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."

    Matt Wallace tied for seventh despite a 72, having started the day level with Wiesberger.

    Justin Rose made a seven-under 64 but it was not nearly enough to atone for Saturday's miserable 78 that had him back at par, finishing in a tie for 15th.

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    Griffin climbed 16 positions as the surging American claimed a one-stroke advantage atop the leaderboard on Saturday.

    Seeking his maiden PGA Tour title, Griffin had nine birdies and a pair of bogeys to become the man to beat heading into the final round.

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    Fitzpatrick started moving day with the slenderest of advantages, and after struggling early on he returned to the top of the leaderboard after coming up with four birdies in his last six holes.

    American Kurt Kitayama looked set to be the man to catch on the final day at Olgiata Golf Club after a sparkling 65 - before Englishman Fitzpatrick gained momentum to post a three-under 68 and move to 13 under.

    Fitzpatrick dropped a shot at the second after starting with a birdie, and made another bogey at the 10th, but he got back into the groove with a late charge courtesy of a combination of excellent approach shots and clinical putting.

    "To put myself one in front gives me a little bit of help," said five-time European Tour event winner Fitzpatrick. "I'm just looking forward and I'm ready to go already.

    "Coming down the hill on the 12th it didn't feel like I should be one over. I didn't hit as many good shots as I would have liked around the turn so that cost me a little bit and put me back. To finish the way I did was great."

    American Kitayama finished the day in second place after signing for a bogey-free, six-under score.

    Kitayama reached the turn in 32 after making three gains on the front nine and picked up another three shots to put himself firmly in contention.

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