Quiros proving class is permanent and form is temporary
Spaniard likely to repel chasing pack
Story so far
Alvaro Quiros has hit a little purple patch in the last fortnight, the Spaniard bursting back into form and on the verge of ending a European Tour victory drought of almost six years.
Quiros closed with an eight-under-par 65 for 22nd place in the Portugal Open last Sunday, and he has opened up this week's Rocco Forte Open with rounds of 63, 64 and 70. That leaves the six-time Tour champion at 16 under par, five shots clear at the top of the leaderboard.
Quiros was 150-1 for Forte glory ante-post, but no bigger than 8-13 is available with 18 holes to play. His nearest challenger, Zander Lombard, made a double-bogey at the 18th hole of round three on a windy day when birdies were in short supply.
Pre-tournament favourite Jordan Smith slumped to a third-round 77 to drop into a share of 61st place. Renato Paratore shares third spot, leading the Italian bid in Sicily.
-16 Alvaro Quiros
-11 Zander Lombard
-10 Renato Paratore, Pep Angles
-9 Michael Hoey, Jose-Filipe Lima, David Horsey, Raphael Jacquelin, Lee Slattery, Johan Carlsson
8-13 A Quiros, 11 Z Lombard, 14 R Paratore, 20 P Angles, 28 D Horsey, R Jacquelin, 40 L Slattery, 45 J Carlsson, 50 bar
Alvaro Quiros managed an under-par round in tough conditions in round three, keeping his card clean of nothing worse than bogeys, and that effort bodes extremely well for his chances of getting the job done on Sunday.
Quiros closed with three pars at Verdura Golf Club and appears to have settled comfortably into his role of frontrunner. This is not some wet behind the ears rookie who has blazed to the head of affairs at a fancy price – Quiros is a proven champion who should be able to handle the mental side of things well.
Quiros last triumphed in the 2011 Dubai World Championship, so has converted chances in stellar company, and he is likely to assess the challenge in front of him on Sunday with confidence. Even though he has been in the doldrums, successfully defending a five-shot advantage over an inexperienced chasing pack should be within his compass.
Zander Lombard, Renato Paratore and Pep Angles are the closest trio to Quiros and all are European Tour maidens. None of them have even won on the Challenge Tour, while Lombard is yet to get off the mark in his homeland on the Sunshine Tour.
The progressive Paratore, who is playing on home turf, is probably the biggest danger to Quiros. Quotes of 8-13 about the leader seem generous, though, given how little success has been tasted by his nearest pursuers.
Quiros can be fancied to lift the trophy aloft at the end of another sunny but breezy day. Tee-times have been pushed forward to account for the possibility of strong afternoon winds, with Quiros, Lombard and Angles teeing off at 9.15am UK and Ireland time.
Final-round threeball punters are pointed towards Matteo Manassero, who should find enough greens in regulation to see off playing partners Marcel Siem and James Morrison (7.55am). Manassero has been striking his ball solidly all season and he closed round three with three birdies and a par. Full concentration to the finish line can be taken for granted from the Italian in his home country on Sunday.
4pts 8-13 Betfred
2pts 6-4 bet365