Golf: Olazabal's relief work

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The Independent Online
Switzerland's Paolo Quirici holed in one in the third round of the Italian Open yesterday, but his final-hole bogey allowed his playing partner, Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, to relieve him of the lead.

Quirici's seven-iron shot into the cup on the 158-yard short second enabled him to wrest the top spot early on from the overnight leader, Spain's Eduardo Romero. But the seven-iron then let him down on the 18th when a shot with it went into the crowd instead of finding the final green. A dropped shot there let in Olazabal.

Olazabal birdied the last to make up for a double-bogey on the 13th and set up a five-under-par 67. This took him to 10 under par and a one-shot lead over Quirici, who carded a 68.

Romero recovered from early bogeys with four successive birdies after the turn. But a bogey on the 17th meant he had to settle for a 71 and a share of third place with the young Britons Steve Webster, Dean Robertson and Raymond Russell and Sweden's Patrik Sjoland. Webster, 22, equalled the course record with a 65 to rise through the field.

Olazabal surged into contention from two strokes off the lead at the start of the day. He reached the turn in two under par. The 31-year-old Spaniard is now 69 under par in 27 rounds at six tournaments since he made his comeback. He had been out for 18 months with foot problems.

He tracked Quirici with two birdies after the turn but then drove into trees with one of three errant drives, nearly hitting out of bounds left on the 13th to allow Quirici to put daylight between them.

An eagle on the long 16th and a second shot to only four feet on the last, though, edged Olazabal ahead. "My driving has not been good for the last two rounds after a good first day," the Spaniard said. "If I don't get it right for the final round, then I won't win because at least 15 players can go past me."

Quirici was delighted with his ace, the sixth in his career. "I knew it was in when it was in the air," said the 29-year-old, who missed much of the last year on tour because of diabetes.