European Tour

Nicolai Hojgaard leads Italian Open, SA's Daniel van Tonder shares 2nd spot

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Nicolai Hojgaard. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Nicolai Hojgaard. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Danish youngster Nicolai Hojgaard grabbed a one-shot lead at the Italian Open on Saturday as he looks to win his maiden European Tour title the week after his twin brother Rasmus' third success.

Hojgaard fired a brilliant six-under-par 65 at Marco Simone Golf Club, the venue for the 2023 Ryder Cup, to reach 13-under for the tournament.

Tommy Fleetwood moved into a tie for second with South African Daniel van Tonder after a 67.

The 20-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard said watching Rasmus' victory last Sunday at the European Masters has inspired him to get into the winners' circle.

"I would really love to win. Seeing Rasmus win is a big motivation," he told europeantour.com.

"I'm just trying to follow in his steps a little bit. Hopefully I can get it done tomorrow."

Hojgaard, the world number 394, made an eagle at the short par-four 16th for the second time this week to move to the top of the leaderboard.

Should he get over the line on Sunday, the Hojgaard brothers would be the first siblings to win back-to-back events on the European Tour.

European Ryder Cup star Fleetwood was level with Hojgaard until a bogey on the penultimate hole.

"I'm excited to go into a Sunday in contention and see where my game's at really," said Fleetwood, whose last win came at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2019.

"It'll be a nice time to come into form so I'll keep trying."

Leading third-round scores from the European Tour's Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome on Saturday (par 71/GBR & IRL unless stated):

200 - Nicolai Hojgaard (DEN) 66-69-65

201 - Tommy Fleetwood 66-68-67, Daniel van Tonder (RSA) 70-65-66

202 - Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 68-66-68

203 - Min Woo Lee (AUS) 64-68-71

204 - Oliver Farr 69-68-67, Alexander Levy (FRA) 69-66-69, Victor Perez (FRA) 70-67-67

205 - Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 65-70-70, Ross Fisher 67-71-67, Francesco Laporta (ITA) 66-70-69

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