"Been a little while — Germany, which was back in June, last time I was challenging. When you're in these kind of positions, it's always exciting," Fitzpatrick said. "That's why you play the game, and look forward to the weekend."
Fitzpatrick is sixth in the Race to Dubai rankings and is looking to regain his spot in Europe's Ryder Cup team after missing out on the competition last year. Joachim Hansen of Denmark moved into second at 9 under with a 66 as he looks to improve on his fourth-place finish in last weekend's Spanish Open.
Former U.S. Open winners Justin Rose (69) and Graeme McDowell (66) were tied with three other players — Shubhankar Sharma (69), Rory Sabbatini (70) and Andrew Johnston (68) — for third at 7 under. Molinari, the tournament's poster boy, struggled to a 76 and missed the cut by five strokes. Molinari was playing in his home country for the first time since winning last year's British Open and leading Europe to the Ryder Cup trophy with a 5-0 record.
"It's something I've got to accept and I'm ready to move on," Molinari said. "I'm just sorry this has happened here — at the Italian Open. My level of play was mediocre at best. Nothing was working." Also missing the weekend was Ian Poulter, a two-time Italian Open champion like Molinari and the winner at Olgiata way back in 2002 when the tournament was last held in Rome. Poulter (71) and British Open champion Shane Lowry (71) each missed the cut by one stroke.
Italian fans can now put their support behind Andrea Pavan (67), who grew up playing at Olgiata, and is in contention at 6 under; and Guido Migliozzi (66), who is at 4-under. With a $7 million purse in the Rolex Series, the Italian Open is back in Rome after 17 years as the local federation attempts to boost interest ahead of the 2022 Ryder Cup at the nearby Marco Simone club .
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