Date: May 11, 2008

Fraser out to catch runaway leader

Less than two months after losing a five-stroke lead on the final day in Madeira, South African Hennie Otto has another great chance to win his first European Tour title tomorrow. The best-placed Australian is Marcus Fraser, who was in a tie for 13th place on 13-under after carding a 69 on Saturday. A third round 63 at the Italian Open in Milan brought the 31-year-old, who once snapped his clubs in half and threw them into a river after scoring 80, from two behind to four ahead. Otto, not even a full member of the Tour at the moment, is on the 22-under-par total of 194. In relation to par that score has only been bettered by one shot – by Ernie Els and David Howell – in the history of the circuit. Ryder Cup Swede Robert Karlsson was the man who had led at halfway following a course record 61, but he managed &aposonly&apos a 69 on the low-scoring Castello di Tolcinasco lay-out. And that dropped the tournament&aposs highest-ranked player – he stands 48th in the world to Otto&aposs 154th – into a tie for second on 18-under with compatriot Christian Nilsson and Spain&aposs Alvaro Velasco. They are ranked 651st and 388th respectively. Otto even fell further behind when Karlsson set off again with an eagle. But bogeys on the next two holes for the seven-time Tour winner were a sign that he was not firing on all cylinders like the day before. After four birdies and a bogey in his first five holes, Otto then had four more around the turn before finishing with three more – the last of them from 25 feet – for an inward 30. England&aposs Ross McGowan and Phillip Archer are tied for fifth, while fellow countryman Oliver Wilson, who played nine holes of his second round using a wedge on the greens after damaging his putter, is joint seventh with Frenchman Gregory Havret. Paul Broadhurst, playing his 500th European Tour event, is in joint 13th after a 67, but the former Ryder Cup star, who made his debut as an amateur 20 years ago, was left to rue a closing bogey. “My neighbour out in the States is always talking about my stats and any time I&aposm heading towards a bogey-free round I start thinking about it,” he said. “I just wish I could play the last few holes better because I&aposm playing the hard ones really well.” Nick Dougherty, who flew to the event after attending his mother&aposs funeral on Tuesday, had a 67 for 12 under and, having played with Karlsson when he shot 61, was not giving up the title chase. “Robert played awesome, but showed it was feasible,” said the 25-year-old from Liverpool, who had no fewer than nine birdies, but also a double bogey on the seventh and two bogeys. “All things considered this week I think I&aposm doing well. It&aposs been a week of mistakes, but that&aposs acceptable in the circumstances.” American John Daly returned a 68, but that was after making the halfway cut with nothing to spare and at eight under he was down in 46th spot. Leaderboard after third round of the Italian Open (Par 72): -22: Hennie Otto 65 66 63, -18: Robert Karlsson 68 61 69, Christian Nilsson 67 67 64, Alvaro Velasco 70 64 64 -17: Phillip Archer 70 64 65, Ross McGowan 64 71 64 -16: Gregory Havret 70 67 63, Oliver Wilson 66 69 65 -15: Estanislao Goya 66 67 68, Anders Hansen 68 65 68, Marcel Siem 70 66 65, Marco Soffietti 72 66 63 -13: Paul Broadhurst 69 67 67, Mark Foster 65 66 72, Marcus Fraser (Australia) 67 67 69, Maarten Lafeber 68 66 69, Alexandre Rocha 69 68 66 Also: -12: Scott Barr (Australia) 70 69 65 -9: Matthew Millar (Australia) 68 70 69 -3: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 67 72 74