Round One Report
Henrik Stenson’s fine recent form continued on the opening day of the DS Automobiles Italian Open as he fired a flawless 64 to sit in a three way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
The 45-year-old Swede, who is targeting a sixth Ryder Cup appearance, followed up his share of fourth spot in the D+D Real Czech Masters with a third place finish at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club last week.
And the 2016 Open Championship winner impressed once again on Thursday, notching seven birdies and no bogeys at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club to join fellow early starters Kalle Samooja and Min Woo Lee on seven under par.
After opening his round with back-to-back birdies at the tenth and 11th, Stenson picked up shots at the 16th and 18th courtesy of close range birdie putts. Further gains at the third, fourth and sixth took him to seven under and he parred his way home to keep his card clean.
Local favourite Edoardo Molinari finished the day alongside morning starters Eddie Pepperell and Scott Hend in a tie for fourth on six under, one shot behind the leaders after a brilliant 65 that contained a hole-in-one at the short par three seventh to win a new car.
Tommy Fleetwood forms part of the chasing group that sits at five under alongside Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who carded eight birdies in a row on his back nine after opening with a par, and Italy’s Francesco Laporta and Dane Nicolai Højgaard.
Henrik Stenson: “Once again I think I played a good round of golf. I don’t want to make any mistakes early in terms of missing greens, so the few times I did I managed to keep a clean card and made some lovely putts to keep it tidy, so very happy with that.
It has been really good these last two or three weeks, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had good practice over the last couple of years, so it feels nice to keep it tidy and I have had a few bogey-free rounds – don’t jinx that now please – but it is kind of the same, we try and stay focused, stay patient and just keep on playing our game and improving at the same time.
More than anything I feel like I am in a good frame of mind to play golf and to try and get the best score out of my game. There is still more to wish for, but we take the positives and keep on working on the rest.
There is definitely a trickiness to it. A few of the greens are very undulated and they are quick as we play them now, and I think we are going to see some tough putting on a few of those. If you can’t put the ball in the right spot, you are behind the eight ball. We saw that in our group a couple times today and fortunately for me I wasn’t the one in the wrong spot, but it can definitely come up and bite you and it is still good conditions for scoring today.
Min Woo Lee: “It was really good, not much to say about it. Hit it really good off the tee, didn’t really give myself a position to make a bogey. I made one but other than that I played solid and made my up-and-downs when I needed to and just very solid golf.
“It was a strong field and gave me a bit of belief in myself, and a bit of that confidence that I can step up on every shot and just do the same as what I just did at the Scottish Open. Life is nice when you golf is good, so just hitting the same shots and thrive off that a little bit.
“At first glance, it was a very good match play course but I like it for stroke play too, but it is still growing and I think it will be an amazing course in two years. It is a long walk on that back nine but that is the course you want, you want lots of birdies and if you hit a bad shot you don’t get rewarded for it, so that’s perfect.”
Kalle Samooja: “It was some good golf today. I am pretty pleased because I was struggling with everything and today I wasn’t struggling with anything, so it was a nice morning walk.
“I was missing everything last week with the putter and the driver. I had a few good practice days, and the course seems nice, and the greens are pure. You need to play some good golf here, hit some good shots to go low and that’s what I managed to do.”
Round One Scores
64 K SAMOOJA (FIN), M LEE (AUS), H STENSON (SWE),
65 E MOLINARI (ITA), E PEPPERELL (ENG), S HEND (AUS),
66 T FLEETWOOD (ENG), A ARNAUS (ESP), F LAPORTA (ITA), N H?JGAARD (DEN),
67 J VEERMAN (USA), S BROWN (ENG), A SADDIER (FRA), B HEBERT (FRA), M KAWAMURA (JPN), R FISHER (ENG),
68 M KORHONEN (FIN), J SURI (USA), B STONE (RSA), R ROUSSEL (FRA),
69 O FARR (WAL), F MOLINARI (ITA), G GREEN (MAS), A LEVY (FRA), J GUERRIER (FRA), S HORSFIELD (ENG), M KIEFFER (GER), W NIENABER (RSA), J CAMPILLO (ESP), D HORSEY (ENG), B WIESBERGER (AUT), N ELVIRA (ESP), D WHITNELL (ENG), C SHINKWIN (ENG), M LORENZO-VERA (FRA), M ANTCLIFF (AUS),
70 P LARRAZ?BAL (ESP), D COUPLAND (ENG), T PIETERS (BEL), D VAN TONDER (RSA), A MERONK (POL), A SULLIVAN (ENG), V DUBUISSON (FRA), V PEREZ (FRA), R BLAND (ENG), P WARING (ENG), H PORTEOUS (RSA), S JAMIESON (SCO), A CHESTERS (ENG), M ARMITAGE (ENG), M SOUTHGATE (ENG), D BURMESTER (RSA), G HIGGO (RSA), S V?LIM?KI (FIN), J QUESNE (FRA), J VECCHI FOSSA (ITA), F CELLI (AM) (ITA),
71 M PAVON (FRA), D GAVINS (ENG), R KARLBERG (SWE), J CALDWELL (NIR), R PARATORE (ITA), A OTAEGUI (ESP), J GONNET (FRA), J LAGERGREN (SWE), A ROZNER (FRA), T LEE (KOR), G FDEZ-CASTA?O (ESP), J LUITEN (NED), J STALTER (FRA), M JORDAN (ENG), D DRYSDALE (SCO),
72 F ZANOTTI (PAR), S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP), L CANTER (ENG), D FICHARDT (RSA), C WOOD (ENG), T DETRY (BEL), J HANSEN (DEN), W ORMSBY (AUS), R H?JGAARD (DEN), M FITZPATRICK (ENG), G FORREST (SCO), G COETZEE (RSA), T PULKKANEN (FIN), J DONALDSON (WAL), J WALTERS (RSA), A ROMANO (AM) (ITA), A JOHNSTON (ENG), R LANGASQUE (FRA), S CROCKER (USA), T OLESEN (DEN), A QUIROS (ESP), G MIGLIOZZI (ITA), M SIEM (GER), G PORTEOUS (ENG), J CATLIN (USA),
73 Z LOMBARD (RSA), S GALLACHER (SCO), J HARDING (RSA), M WALLACE (ENG), O WILSON (ENG), L BJERREGAARD (DEN), J SMITH (ENG), S KJELDSEN (DEN), M KINHULT (SWE), D VAN DRIEL (NED), A BJ?RK (SWE), W BESSELING (NED), S SODERBERG (SWE),
74 G HAVRET (FRA), K MOON (KOR), P BOVARI (AM) (ITA), L DONALD (ENG),
75 C HILL (SCO), M KAYMER (GER), O FISHER (ENG), S SHARMA (IND), J SJ?HOLM (SWE), C PAISLEY (ENG), L GAGLI (ITA), D BUCHI (AM) (ITA), R MCEVOY (ENG), R RAMSAY (SCO), N BERTASIO (ITA), R MCGOWAN (ENG), J JANEWATTANANOND (THA), G MANZONI (AM) (ITA), D LAW (SCO),
76 R ROCK (ENG), S KIM (USA), D HOWELL (ENG), L SCALISE (ITA), A COCKERILL (CAN), J WINTHER (DEN), S HEISELE (GER), R SANTOS (POR), R FOX (NZL), G DE LEO (ITA),
77 J MORRISON (ENG), N COLSAERTS (BEL), E DI NITTO (ITA), J SENIOR (ENG), L CIANCHETTI (ITA), C SYME (SCO), M JIM?NEZ (ESP), G STORM (ENG), T AIKEN (RSA), S MAZZOLI (ITA),
78 C SHARVIN (NIR), A ZEMMER (ITA),
79 F MACCARIO (ITA),
80 A PAVAN (ITA),
81 T PERRINO (ITA), R JACQUELIN (FRA),
86 M WARREN (SCO),