Marcus Fraser endured a roller coaster week in Italy including a blistering front nine Sunday to vault to the top of the leaderboard before stumbles on the inward half saw him slip back.
The Victorian eventually finished outright fifth, his best result in a disappointing year which saw him start the week languishing in 136th position on the Race to Dubai.
Having shot to a share of the 36-hole lead with a career best 9-under 62 Friday, Fraser’s game deserted him Saturday as he stumbled to 1-over 72 and slipped to a share of ninth.
He was one of only two players in the top-30 Saturday not to break par, Jamie Donaldson the other with an even par 71.
By Sunday, however, Fraser looked a different golfer as he began his final round with some other-worldly putting and laser like wedges.
He torched Milano Golf Club’s front nine in 6-under 30 then birdied the 11th to go 7-under for the day and leading alone.
But he wasn’t the only player going low and after his brilliant first nine needed to keep the momentum going if he was to have a chance to claim a fourth European Tour title.
A bogey at the 13th after missing the fairway and failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker was costly but a second dropped shot at the 15th ultimately proved fatal.
At 18-under and two behind playing partner Ross Fisher it would be a bridge too far though Fraser will take a lot of positives from what was an unexpected performance.
He told reporters after his brilliant Friday round he had been considering heading home to reassess where his game was at but will be pleased he decided to stick around and play the Italian Open.
One of eight Australasians to tee up in the fifth of eight mega purse Rolex Series tournaments, Fraser easily claimed top honours for the week.
Brett Rumford was next best at 8-under and T45 with Wade Ormsby 4-under and T61.
Sam Brazel posted an uncharacteristic 79 in the third round to fall to the tail of the field and despite finishing with a 1-under 70 remained there at week’s end.
Nathan Holman and Jason Scrivener missed the cut by a single stroke while Ryan Fox was four outside the number.
Andrew Dodt never got going for the week and with rounds of 71-74 also missed the weekend’s play.
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