BRESCIA, Italy (AP) English duo Robert Rock and Laurie Canter and South Africa’s Richard Sterne all shot rounds of 8-under 63 on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Italian Open.
The trio was two shots ahead of a group of eight players, which includes 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett and Ryder Cup duo Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters.
Daniel Im is also part of that group after a bogey on the 11th halted a bright start by the American on a day of low scoring at Gardagolf in Brescia.
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Lightning stopped play for about an hour and 19 minutes midway through the afternoon after Rock and Canter had both finished their rounds.
Rock was at 1 over after three holes, but carded nothing higher than a 3 on the next nine holes and finished with seven birdies and an eagle.
”I did well to bogey the second after two terrible tee shots, my provisional was in the water as well, but got on a run after that with all threes and twos for nine holes,” Rock said. ”I don’t think I’ve ever done that.”
Rock won the first of his two European Tour titles at the 2011 Italian Open.
It was Willett’s lowest round of the season as he looks to halt an alarming slide down the rankings.
Willett reached a career-high of ninth in the world after claiming his first major title at Augusta National in 2016, but has since plummeted to 462nd after struggling with injuries and a loss of form.
”It’s been a while,” Willett said after only his second round in the 60s this season. ”We played really well and got the ball in play a lot which you have to do around here.”