Brendan McGovern was slow out of the blocks with a three-over 75 as Peter Wilson, David Shacklady and Joakim Haeggman all posted opening rounds of 67 to share the lead after the first day of the Senior Italian Open at San Domenico Golf.
The Headfort pro, who landed his eighth hole-in-one in a practice round earlier in the week, traded two birdies with five bogeys and sits in a tie for 37th at three-over after a disappointing opening effort.
Sweden’s Haeggman, a three-time European Tour winner who also represented Europe in the 1993 Ryder Cup, set the early marker in the more favourable morning conditions when he posted the first five under round of the day, one which included three successive birdies from the second hole.
Englishman Shacklady soon joined him at the summit as an eagle three at the par five tenth hole helped him to a 67, before Wilson made it a three-way tie for the lead courtesy of a bogey-free first round in the more challenging afternoon conditions.
Wilson, who is still in search of his maiden Legends Tour title, revealed that he has been given a new perspective on life recently and is not putting any pressure on himself, which in turn has helped his game.
“Realistically I don’t see the pressure anymore,” Wilson said. “I’ve recently lost a couple of close friends who I played football with.
“Hopefully I can get the win at some point. I’m under no illusions there’s top quality players out here and hopefully I can get over the line at some point – if it’s not this week then maybe in Mauritius or maybe one day or week next year.”
Shacklady, who has previously won three times on the Legends Tour, thinks distance from the tee could be key this week but he is focussed on just believing in his own game.
“It’s fairly generous off the tee which I am sure a few players have probably said and dependant on wind direction,” said Shacklady. “Obviously down-wind with a lot of the bunkers you can get it past them and it’s fairly generous but when you go back into the wind a lot of the bunkers and some of the trouble suddenly become very much in play.
“It does suit a long hitter, I thought that from the start and I just tried to carry on doing what I was doing by trying to get a bit more yardage out of it and really having the confidence and trust in myself.”
Haeggman is delighted with the way he performed on day one and is hoping for more of the same as he targets a maiden Legends Tour title.
“I had an amazing day and to get away with five under is a heck of a start,” he said. “I am hoping for the same again for the rest of my life!”
Emanuele Canonica of Italy sits in outright fourth position after a four under 68 which included six birdies.
Four players share fifth place on two under par – two-time winner of this event Clark Dennis of the United States, James Kingston of South Africa, Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez and Peter Baker of England.
The second round of the Senior Italian Open will begin at 8:30am local time on Thursday, with Wilson teeing it up alongside Shacklady and Haeggman at 11.50am.
- Full scoring HERE