The Italian shot a bogey-free, 6-under 66 and has a two-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round. He’s at 13-under for the tournament.
Tiger Woods (67) and Tony Finau (64) are tied for second at 11-under and will join Molinari in the final group. Brooks Koepka shot a 69 and is three shots back. Webb Simpson (64) and Ian Poulter (68) are four back.
Woods thrilled the crowds in Augusta with another vintage performance. He’s certainly in the hunt, but has never won a major when trailing going into the final round.
The third-round conditions were nearly perfect with plenty of sunshine, very little wind and forgiving greens thanks to recent rain.
Tee times Sunday were pushed to the morning because of possible severe weather, and players will tee off in threesomes from the No. 1 and No. 10 so all players finish before the expected storms.
Tiger Woods briefly claimed a share of the Master lead, only to have Francesco Molinari grab it all to himself a few minutes later.
Four-time winner Woods rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt at the 16th, sending roars cascading across Augusta National as he moved to 11-under for the tournament. That was good enough at the time to pull even with Tony Finau and Molinari, the reigning British Open champion.
But back at the 14th hole, Molinari made an 8-foot putt for his third straight birdie, pushing his score to 12 under.
The 43-year-old Woods hasn’t won the green jacket since 2005, and he’s been seeking his 15th major title since winning the 2008 U.S. Open.
This is a tradition unlike any other for the Masters — an early start Sunday with hopes of finishing ahead of thunderstorms.
Players will start in threesomes on the first and 10th tees, with the first group out at 7:30 a.m. The leaders will tee off at 9 a.m., about six hours earlier than a typical Sunday at Augusta National.
Assuming there are no delays, the final round should end about 2:30 p.m.
CBS Sports will broadcast the final round starting at 9 a.m.
Club chairman Fred Ridley says an early start gives the tournament the best chance to avoid rain and end on Sunday. The Masters has not gone to a Monday finish since Seve Ballesteros won in 1983.