Sjoholm leads, SA pair two back
Joel Sjoholm of Sweden shot an 8-under 64 to lead by one stroke from Lee Slattery of England after the first round of the Italian Open on Thursday.
Sjoholm made eight birdies on the 7 282-yard Royal Park I Roveri course outside Turin, while Slattery picked up three shots in his last four holes.
"I hit it basically everywhere," Sjoholm said. "I was in the woods a lot and made some funny birdies today. It was a big, fighting 64 rather than a solid 64. But it's great fun to be 8 under."
Seven players were tied for third at 6 under. They are English trio Richard McEvoy, Richard Bland and David Howell, South African duo Garth Mulroy and Keith Horne, Victor Dubuisson of France and Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland.
The 27-year-old Sjoholm's top career result also came on Italian soil, having finished third in last year's Sicilian Open. He missed the cuts by a single stroke in both Switzerland and the Netherlands in the past two weeks.
"I want revenge," said Sjoholm, who was born in Chile and adopted as a baby. "The last two weeks I actually played quite good golf ... Both times I felt like I had a good chance to make the cut, but you have to forget and keep moving on.
"I know that I have to play better golf tomorrow," he added. "I'm not going to make these sort of birdies four rounds in a row."
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Local favourite Francesco Molinari, the 2006 winner, led a Ryder Cup-bound trio at 4 under. Martin Kaymer is at 2 under and captain's pick Nicolas Colsaerts was a stroke further back.
With the Ryder Cup only two weeks away, Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal is also in the field and shot a 70.
"It's fun playing in front of the home crowd, but there's a lot of pressure and everyone wants you to do well," Molinari said. "It was nice to spend some time together (with Kaymer and Colsaerts), and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun in America as well. We talked a little about a few things, but not too much."
Defending champion Robert Rock opened with a 70.