Peter Hanson continued his cool run of consistency in Italy to take the clubhouse lead at the Golf Club Padova Terme Euganee International Open after play was severely interrupted by rain storms – the first time the heavens have opened upon Padova for over three months.
Paolo Terreni from Italy is hot on his heels, also on eight under but still with three holes to play.
Hanson, from Sweden, has made only one bogey in his last five competitive rounds of European Challenge Tour golf and he used that solid base to build an impressive first round score of eight under par 64 over the 6592 yard Padova course.
Hanson said: “I didn’t feel as though I was striking the ball that well today but I putted great. I holed a lot of long putts as well as chipping in for birdie on 16.
“My confidence is high at the moment but you have to be confident to do well at the Challenge Tour events because of the scoring. It’s not going to be any different this week in that you have to be aiming for a 25 under total to win.
“But I’ve been playing well over the past few weeks. I’ve only made one bogey in my past five rounds - which came in Kitzbühel last weekend - and that’s the kind of consistency you want.”
Hanson is being closely followed by no less than five players as the Challenge Tour competitors ignored the awkward conditions and produced another round of highly competitive scoring.
And, with half the field still to complete their first rounds following a combined storm delay of four hours and 40 minutes, the Swede could yet find himself knocked off the top of the leaderboard at the end of round one.
For the moment, though, Hanson and Terreni hold a one stroke advantage over Frenchman Thomas Besancenez, Argentinean Rafael Gomez, Swede Martin Erlandsson and Johan Skold as well as Englishman Zane Scotland.
Scotland only turned professional four weeks ago and is playing in his second Challenge Tour event. After missing the cut at the Kitzbühel Golf Alpin Open last week he is clearly learning quickly.
“I thoroughly enjoyed that, despite the delays, mainly because I didn’t feel as though I had played that well but still managed to grind out a 65 if that makes any sense,” he said with a smile.
“I wasn’t playing well in the sense that I couldn’t get the driver going off the tee, but I managed to use my two iron to good effect.
“I putted really well today – I was holing everything and that always makes the difference. I had 23 putts in total, and while you don’t count the putts from the fringes – of which I had a couple – it’s still good going.
“I only turned professional about four weeks ago so this is all still a learning process for me really, but a few more 65's would help me settle in a bit quicker!”
Skold, on the other hand, used all of his previous experience from Golf Club Padova to compile his 65. The Swede recorded his lowest ever Challenge Tour round of 64 at the same venue two years ago – and was delighted to be back in Italy for two reasons.
“I played well today. My irons were great – I had three or four birdie putts from about two feet and then when I had to make the 12 footer my putter was spot on as well so it felt good today,” he said.
“I had a 64 here in Padova two years ago and I always like to come back here. The greens are beautiful and I really like the course – almost as much as I like the food!”
The players had ample opportunities to sample the Italian diet during the storm delays.
Play was suspended for three hours before a ball was struck, before a one hour 40 minute postponement further held up play in the afternoon – leaving half of the field with an early start on Friday to finish their first round scores.