The Italian, chasing a maiden European Tour victory, made the turn four under par before carding six birdies in his last seven holes to sign for a bogey-free round at Dom Pedro Victoria in the Algarve.
The 33-year-old is four ahead of Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who is also searching for his first victory on the European Tour. Arnaus carded a bogey free 65 to sit on six under par, one stroke ahead of Malaysia’s Gavin Green who took solo third after a five under 66.
Former Portugal Masters champions Lucas Bjerregaard and Pádraig Harrington, winners in 2017 and 2016 respectively, share fourth on four under par. Their rounds of 67 were matched by Benjamin Hébert of France, Højgaard twins Nicolai and Rasmus, and Englishman Callum Shinkwin.
Nino Bertasio: “I got off to a good start, birdied the second after hitting it close and I started making some putts. I made a lot of putts on the front nine and played really solid on the back. Hit a few close, hit the par fives in two and the birdie on the last was a bonus. Today’s a different wind, we normally play it down off the left and today it was in-to. Tricky holes, and very happy to finish birdie-birdie.
“I wasn’t thinking about it (a 59), I’m not going to lie. Just trying to finish a good round. I wasn’t expecting a 61, but I have been playing nicely. I putted really well today and everything clicked. I wasn’t expecting a 61, but I’ve been playing some good golf. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’ll just try and go out and have fun, I’ve got a great group with Sam Horsfield and Julian (Suri), we had a lot of fun. I’ll try and stick to that.”
Adri Arnaus: “My goal every day is to go out there, have fun and try and play my best. At the start of the day I felt as though things were on point, so I took advantage of it.
“I’ve only played this course twice, I played it the first time with a different wind. On the par fives, it’s a bit easier with the other wind, but this time around, with the northern wind, we couldn’t take advantage as well. But I took advantage of other holes and I guess there are still plenty of opportunities out there.”
Gavin Green: “It was a little bit of a shaky start. The wind was pumping a bit and I was trying to putt my way around and give myself looks. I did that. There were a couple of times where I had to salvage a par or salvage a good bogey. Once we turned, the wind died down a little bit but the greens were getting a bit softer as it got cooler. It was nice to hole some putts and get a 66.
“It’s a lot softer and a lot longer. I don’t remember using this many drivers. On nearly every single hole I’m hitting driver. It’s usually firm and fast, particularly the greens. Now it’s a lot softer and the course is playing way longer, especially in the wind. You have to hit the fairways. On some par fours we were hitting driver-five iron, or driver-four iron, when before it would be driver-seven, eight, nine. It’s a different course, a different beast.”
Scores after Round One
61 N BERTASIO (ITA),
65 A ARNAUS (ESP),
66 G GREEN (MAS),
67 B HEBERT (FRA), L BJERREGAARD (DEN), C SHINKWIN (ENG), R H?JGAARD (DEN), P HARRINGTON (IRL), N H?JGAARD (DEN),
68 W BESSELING (NED), O WILSON (ENG), K SAMOOJA (FIN), M ARMITAGE (ENG), G FORREST (SCO), S BROWN (ENG), M PAVON (FRA), M KORHONEN (FIN), M LEE (AUS), D LAW (SCO), S HORSFIELD (ENG), P ANGLES (ESP), T PIETERS (BEL),
69 K BROBERG (SWE), J HANSEN (DEN), N COLSAERTS (BEL), S GALLACHER (SCO), J CALDWELL (NIR), A LEVY (FRA), T PULKKANEN (FIN), F ZANOTTI (PAR),
70 J JANEWATTANANOND (THA), O FISHER (ENG), J CATLIN (USA), A SULLIVAN (ENG), R BLAND (ENG), L CANTER (ENG), P LARRAZ?BAL (ESP), A ROZNER (FRA), S V?LIM?KI (FIN), M KIEFFER (GER), M JORDAN (ENG), D HORSEY (ENG), R SANTOS (POR), M LORENZO-VERA (FRA), R RAMSAY (SCO), S CROCKER (USA), R MACINTYRE (SCO), G COETZEE (RSA), F LAPORTA (ITA), R MCGOWAN (ENG),
71 P FIGUEIREDO (POR), R LANGASQUE (FRA), A BJ?RK (SWE), R FISHER (ENG), S JAMIESON (SCO), P HANSON (SWE), J SENIOR (ENG), R JACQUELIN (FRA), C WOOD (ENG), J WALTERS (RSA), J SURI (USA), C PAISLEY (ENG), V LOPES (POR), T GOUVEIA (POR),
72 A OTAEGUI (ESP), J LUITEN (NED), T OLESEN (DEN), A JOHNSTON (ENG), V PEREZ (FRA), J SINGH BRAR (ENG), D DRYSDALE (SCO), E MOLINARI (ITA), R PARATORE (ITA), D GAVINS (ENG), N ELVIRA (ESP), M WALLACE (ENG), J SMITH (ENG), M KINHULT (SWE), N LEMKE (SWE), J LIMA (POR), J DU PREEZ (RSA),
73 J DONALDSON (WAL), C SYME (SCO), R ROCK (ENG), Z LOMBARD (RSA), E PEPPERELL (ENG), T BJ?RN (DEN), R ROUSSEL (FRA), A QUIROS (ESP), R MCEVOY (ENG),
74 G STORM (ENG), O FARR (WAL), S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP), M WARREN (SCO), J GUERRIER (FRA),
75 D HOWELL (ENG), A CHESTERS (ENG), S HEND (AUS), H PORTEOUS (RSA),
76 C HILL (SCO), L GAGLI (ITA), S SODERBERG (SWE), J STALTER (FRA), C SHARVIN (NIR),
77 V DUBUISSON (FRA),
78 P CLARE NEVES (AM) (POR),
79 J CAMPILLO (ESP),