Fresh off his career-best European Tour finish, Jonathan Caldwell continued where he left off with a five-under par round of 67 on day one of the Italian Open.
The Clandeboye professional, who enjoyed a tied-seventh result at last week’s inaugural Scottish Championship, fired seven birdies in a stellar opening effort.
The par-3 fifth hole proved to be the only blemish on the 36-year old’s card but even with that double double, Caldwell is nicely placed in a share of 16th, albeit seven strokes back of Laurie Canter’s lead.
The Englishman got off to a spectacular start in Italy, carding a 12-under par opening round 60 to take a four-shot lead at Chervò Golf Club.
Meanwhile, Ardglass professional Cormac Sharvin was solid out the blocks but sits nine shots back in a tie for 50th despite breaking 70 with a three-under opening 69. Gavin Moynihan has work to do after only managing an even par effort to share 90th.
It’s 30-year-old Canter who has them all at it early after carding ten birdies and an eagle and even threatened the magic number of 59 in Brescia. An eagle three at the par-five 18th hole would have put him alongside his countryman Oliver Fisher – the only man to have carded a sub-60 round in European Tour history – albeit due to placing on the fairways the score would not have been official .
Canter couldn’t reach the green in two, but still holed a 25-foot putt on the last for a closing birdie. That earned him a four-stroke lead, the largest first-round lead of the season, with Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen and South Africa’s Dean Burmester in a share of second place on eight-under par following a pair of 64s.
“It feels great,” said Canter. “The score, days like that, the back nine there, everything’s gone in. I gave myself some chances and it was just one of those days where you’ve just got to enjoy the ride.
“I did say to Jamie in the practice round that I thought this was somewhere I could do well. I think it’s playing quite long and it definitely helps being able to hit it straight and that’s something I’ve been able to do most of this year so far. I like the golf course but I think obviously a lot of things have gone right today to help me shoot that.
“Winning, you need a lot of things to go your way. Portugal, I felt like I did about as well as I could that week and come second. I’ve had other weeks where I’ve felt the same and come tenth, so the standard is good. So for me to win, and for me to say I feel ready to win, I feel like I’m jumping the gun. You play as well as you can for four days and hopefully it’s your week. You do need things to go your way, I feel, to win.”
World Number 35 Bernd Wiesberger got his title defence off to a solid start as the Austrian signed for a five under par 67 while former World Number One and two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer opened his account with a three under 69.
Full scoring HERE