Sweden’s Klas Eriksson fired an eight under par 64 to lead on the opening day of the San Paolo Vita and Asset Management Open in Italy. He is a shot ahead of Mads Vibe-Hastrup from Denmark and two clear of the rest of the field.
Eriksson, seeking a return to the regular tour and seventh on the Challenge Tour rankings, was out from the 10th tee and covered both nines in 32 strokes to sign for eight birdies.
Vibe-Hastrup, with six top-10 finishes this year but no victory, also had eight birdies but collected a bogey, which cost him a share of top spot.
England’s Mark Foster, current leader of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, is among four players on six under par 66. With two victories to his credit this year and having already secured his European Tour card for next year, Foster was joined on 66 by two more Englishmen, Charles Challen and Spanish-based Miles Tunnicliff.
On the same mark is Alberto Binaghi from Italy, who is at home in Margara having won this title twice, in 1989 and ’99.
Seven players share seventh place on 67 including three more Englishmen, two Swedes, an Australian and a Welshman. The English contingent is made up of Andrew Sherborne, who needs a high finish this week if he is to head back to the regular tour, James Hepworth, and Lee James.
The Swedes are Peter Malmgren and Magnus Persson, beaten in a play off by Jamie Donaldson for the Telia Grand Prix in Stockholm last month, while the Australian is the experienced Peter Fowler. Mark Pilkington from Wales completes the group.
But it proved a difficult day for Donaldson. He is keen to give Foster a fight for the No.1 spot on the rankings but he is unlikely to improve his position this week after returning an 82 that leaves him at the back of the field.