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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Marvellous Molinari in prime position to secure back-to-back wins

Gagli can see off Burmester in twoball duel

Francesco Molinari is sensing an Italian Open hat-trick
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Sky Sports Golf, 5pm Sunday

Story so far
Lee Slattery was a 300-1 chance for Italian Open glory ante-post, but the 39-year-old Southport man is one shot clear of the field going into the final round at Gardagolf Country Club, Brescia.

Slattery is a best-price 7-1 to convert his slender advantage into victory, with local hero Francesco Molinari breathing down his neck. Molinari is tied for second place with Thorbjorn Olesen, with two-time Major champion and halfway pacesetter Martin Kaymer sharing fourth spot.

Molinari, chasing an Italian Open hat-trick, is 13-5 favourite with 18 holes to play. Olesen, a four-time European Tour champion, is next in the betting. Race to Dubai champion, Tommy Fleetwood, is tied for 23rd place, seven shots off the pace.

-16 Lee Slattery
-15 Francesco Molinari, Thorbjorn Olesen
-14 Martin Kaymer, Danny Willett
-13 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Jordan Smith, Haotong Li, Andy Sullivan

Best prices
13-5 F Molinari, 5 T Olesen, 7 L Slattery, 11 R Cabrera-Bello, M Kaymer, 14 A Sullivan, 16 D Willett, 20 H Li, 28 I Poulter, J Smith, 30 T Pieters, 80 bar

Final-round advice
The question mark against Francesco Molinari coming into the Italian Open was whether he had enough mental and physical energy to deliver an Italian Open victory in the wake of a draining BMW PGA Championship.

Molinari admitted earlier in the week that he was struggling for vigour, having emerged triumphant from a duel with Rory McIlroy in Surrey last weekend, but three consecutive rounds of 66, which have featured only one drop-shot, have put the favourite in prime position to secure back-to-back wins.

Molinari should be getting stronger as the week wears on and it seems that being in total control of his game is going to overweigh any handicap of fatigue. He spectacularly found top gear at Wentworth and appears to have carried that form to Gardagolf.

Molinari will be thrilled with the way the first three rounds have panned out – plenty of daylight has been put between him and dangermen like Matteo Manassero, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick – and the title looks at his mercy.

Lee Slattery has two low-grade European Tour titles to his name, but is well short of top-class, while Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett are winless for a long time and will probably lack belief in a tight finish.

Molinari and Thorbjorn Olesen are the two men for outright punters to concentrate on, with the Italian fancied to edge the Dane on the back-nine. Olesen has been struggling for a few months, and played the final four holes in one over par in round three, while Molinari birdied the 18th for a flawless back-nine.

Molinari can be fancied to finish the job, while his compatriot Lorenzo Gagli, full of long-game control for several weeks, can account for South African slugger Dean Burmester in the 10.55am UK and Ireland time twoball.

Outright recommendation
F Molinari
3pts 13-5 Betfred

Twoballs recommendation
L Gagli
1pt 23-20 Sky Bet

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Molinari will be thrilled with the way the first three rounds have panned out
E.W. Terms
Sky bet