In-form Paul Dunne stormed home in 31 to card a third round 66 and extend his run of consecutive sub-par rounds to 14 in the Italian Open in Milan.
The Greystones star, 24, goes into the final round six strokes behind England’s Matt Wallace, who shot 67 to open up a two-shot lead over countryman Tyrrell Hatton and defending champion Francesco Molinari in the fifth Rolex Series event of the year at Golf Club Milano.
Dunne is tied for 13th place on 11-under-par after starting with an early bogey for the third day running.
After taking six at the par-five first, he quickly got into his stride and birdied the fourth and par-five ninth to turn in 35.
He then slammed his foot on the gas on the way home, following a birdie at the 13th with his second successive eagle three at the 14th before picking up another shot at the 387-yard 17th.
Like British Masters champion Dunne, 27-year-old Wallace is already a winner on Tour this year after his victory at the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.
With Irish caddie Dave McNeilly on his bag, he opened with a birdie at the first for the third day in succession and signed off with a tremendous par save at the 18th to move to 17 under par and extend his advantage to two shots over fellow countryman Hatton (65) and Molinari (66).
Hatton, celebrating his 26th birthday, carded six birdies and a single bogey in a blistering front nine before finishing the day at 15 under par alongside defending champion Molinari, who kept his bid for a third Italian Open win since 2006 very much alive with a five under 66.
South African George Coetzee shares fourth place with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat on 14 under after firing two eagles in his third-round 65.
Meanwhile, Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood produced an eight under par 63 to share sixth with France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Germany’s Max Kieffer and Korea’s Byeong Hun An, four shots behind Wallace on 13-under-par.
As for Portrush's Graeme McDowell, the 2004 Italian Open winner slipped back to tie 58th on three-under after a one-over 72
“I think I said it yesterday, just my mental side. Being in position for the first time in this sort of tournament, I'm comfortable and really happy in my game.
“I know where my ball is going, apart from the last shot on 18 there. I think it was good to hit provisional and get that out of my system and hit another one down the middle. Mentally, really happy, and that par on the last will help.
“I'll be in that position tomorrow. I'd say we're probably only halfway there, halfway done, because Sunday is a different day. I'm going to go out, fight as hard as I can and hopefully be standing here with the trophy tomorrow.”
“It felt like a battle on the back nine. Played really nicely all day, to be honest. I holed quite a few putts from the front nine, and sadly, just couldn't sort of make the most of my opportunities on the back nine. So you know, a game of two halves on the greens, but in a good position going into tomorrow.
“Scoring is really low. I've just got to go out there tomorrow. Hopefully play well tee-to-green and just pick my lines on the greens and just hopefully they drop.”
“I played very well. I think the game has been improving throughout the week, which is important. I didn't make too many putts, missed by inches, but I'm happy. I know it's going to be tough tomorrow, but I'm in good position.
“I'm sure there's many other guys playing well and feeling happy about their game, so I think it's going to be kind of a shootout. Matt Wallace is a talented player and he's won loads of times last year on the Alps Tour, so he knows how to win tournaments. It won't be easy for anyone, but I'm happy to be in the mix.
“I'm glad I've put myself in this position. Hopefully, tomorrow things will go my way like they did last year. But you know, I can only control so much, and I'll try to do that.”
"I didn't get much going the first couple holes but finished strongly on the front nine with a couple of birdies and an eagle which gave me the momentum to come and play freely and pick up a couple of extra shots on the back nine. I was hitting decent shots. I just wasn't making any putts. I just tried to focus on being a little freer with the stroke and making better strokes, and I guess just built momentum up.
"Looking forward to trying to win a Rolex event, that would be awesome. It feels good to be in the mix in such a big interview.”
Italian Open, Golf Club Milano (Par 71)
196 M Wallace (Eng) 64 65 67,
198 T Hatton (Eng) 69 64 65, F Molinari (Ita) 64 68 66,
199 G Coetzee (RSA) 65 69 65, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 64 67 68,
200 M Kieffer (Ger) 68 66 66, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 66 63, A Byeong Hun (Kor) 65 69 66,
201 R Fisher (Eng) 68 66 67, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69 64, A Cañizares (Esp) 66 70 65, M Fraser (Aus) 67 62 72,
202 Paul Dunne (Irl) 67 69 66, A Noren (Swe) 66 70 66, M Warren (Sco) 66 69 67, J Donaldson (Wal) 64 67 71, E Pepperell (Eng) 64 69 69, F Aguilar (Chi) 68 69 65, A Björk (Swe) 64 69 69, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 67 67,
203 N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 68 67, S Garcia (Esp) 66 67 70, A Levy (Fra) 68 69 66, F Fritsch (Ger) 67 67 69, D Horsey (Eng) 70 64 69, M Jiménez (Esp) 70 67 66, W Jeunghun (Kor) 68 67 68,
204 R Ramsay (Sco) 67 68 69, J Luiten (Ned) 68 68 68, R Sterne (RSA) 70 66 68, D Fichardt (RSA) 67 67 70, J Rahm (Esp) 67 68 69, N Bertasio (Ita) 68 67 69,
205 G Havret (Fra) 66 69 70, B Rumford (Aus) 71 65 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 67 70 68, J Lagergren (Swe) 69 67 69, B Hebert (Fra) 70 68 67, A Connelly (Can) 68 65 72,
206 C Paisley (Eng) 66 69 71, L Donald (Eng) 69 67 70, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 67 69,
207 A Pavan (Ita) 66 71 70, J Quesne (Fra) 68 70 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 68 69 70, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 67 71, J Smith (Eng) 70 67 70, T Olesen (Den) 69 69 69, J Campillo (Esp) 67 69 71, L Scalise (am) (Ita) 69 69 69,
208 R Bland (Eng) 72 65 71, D Brooks (Eng) 67 68 73, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 67 71, N Elvira (Esp) 70 68 70,
209 C Hanson (Eng) 68 70 71, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 68 71, D Burmester (RSA) 70 68 71,
210 L Westwood (Eng) 69 69 72, W Ormsby (Aus) 69 69 72, E Di Nitto (Ita) 69 69 72, Graeme McDowell (Nir) 69 69 72,
211 L Soomin (Kor) 71 67 73, D Howell (Eng) 67 71 73,
212 R Gouveia (Por) 67 71 74,
215 M Pavon (Fra) 66 72 77,
217 S Brazel (Aus) 67 71 79.