The 29-year-old Kent golfer shot a level par 72 at Castelgan- dolfo yesterday to share the lead with Frenchman Jean van de Velde going into the final round on 209, seven under par. And the life-long Gunners fan, who reluctantly gave up his season ticket at Highbury because of his golfing committments, declared: 'I'm looking for an Arsenal-Spence double.'
Victory would put Spence a long way towards a Ryder Cup baptism against the Americans at The Belfry in September. He is currently lying fifth in the standings with 185,000 points and the pounds 50,000 cheque would help his cause greatly.
Spence, who shot a closing 60 to win the European Masters in Switzerland last year, proved he can win from a long way back. Now he must show he can handle the pressure from the front.
He started the third round a stroke behind recent Lyon Open winner Costantino Rocca, who is bidding for back-to-back wins on the PGA European Tour.
The Italian slid back, however, after taking a seven at the 15th and his round of 74 leaves him in a group of three players on 210, one shot off the pace.
Also on that mark is New Zealander Greg Turner, younger brother of the former Kiwi cricket captain Glenn, who reeled off four consecutive birdies from the fifth in a round of 70.
Van de Velde, who fired a course record 66 to lead after the first round, had dropped out of contention with a 76 to follow that effort. The Frenchman was back in the groove yesterday, closing with three birdies in the last four holes for a 67.
Scot Adam Hunter and David A Russell of Kent both made runs towards the leaders but fell back coming home.
Scores: Sport In Short, page 27Reuse content