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Thursday, 06 May 2010
Graeme Storm  (Getty Images)
Graeme Storm (Getty Images)

England's Graeme Storm will seek forgiveness for missing his daughter's second birthday after claiming a share of the clubhouse lead in the rain-delayed BMW Italian Open.

Storm carded an opening round of 67, five under par, to join compatriot Robert Rock, Australian Marcus Fraser and former Open Championship winner Paul Lawrie at the top of the leaderboard in Turin, with 18 players unable to complete their rounds due to a two-hour delay this morning.

The 32 year old former British amateur champion from Hartlepool had not planned on playing this week, but a shoulder injury which contributed to his worst start to a season since 2005 forced his hand.

"I thought if I played well in Seville last week I would not play as it was my daughter Grace's second birthday yesterday, but I missed the cut and here I am," explained Storm, winner of the Open de France in 2007. "I shot 67 so hopefully she'll forgive me in time."

That missed cut in Seville was his fifth in eight events in 2010, although the former Walker Cup winner admits he should never have played three of those tournaments due to the injury, which was suffered playing water polo.

Storm added: "This is the worst start to a season since I came back on tour. I was effectively out for four months with a rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder and I'm just trying to get some form heading into the summer.

"I injured myself in December but it was not diagnosed until I went to Abu Dhabi in January. I played three weeks in the Middle East and should never have played."

Storm almost did not play in Turin either after feeling "horrendous" when walking the Royal Park I Roveri course on Wednesday when rain washed out the pre-tournament pro-am.

"I just sat down for an hour afterwards and then went to see the doctor and he told me I had a viral infection, some fluid in the inner ear," he added. "To shoot five under was a great score, I didn't expect it so maybe that's why, maybe I was relaxed."

Fraser is seeking back-to-back wins after victory in the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea a fortnight ago, while Rock is still looking for his maiden European Tour victory after finishing runner-up three times last season.

Home attention was focused on the professional debut of Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who joined the paid ranks this week following a superb amateur career which saw him win the British Amateur Championship in 2009, finish 13th in The Open Championship at Turnberry a month later and then 36th in the Masters Tournament at Augusta last month.

And the 17 year old did not disappoint with a typically composed round of 70, two under par, outscoring playing partner and European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie by six shots.

"He was very impressive, to do that as a 17 year old today," Montgomerie said of a playing partner almost 30 years his junior. "He has a good future ahead of him and I wish him all the best."

Manassero added: "It was a good round, I played steady for 18 holes. I really liked how I played today. I was a little nervous, like always in big tournaments, but fortunately I'm getting used to it.

"I don't want to rewind any part of my game. I didn't putt that well but I didn't have many chances so I like the way I played and hopefully it will stay like this."

Meanwhile Lawrie, who needed to birdie the 18th to make a play-off for the Open de España on Sunday but bogeyed instead, carded six birdies and one bogey in his 67.

The 41 year old from Aberdeen said: "I struggled a bit from tee to green but putted magnificently, holing three times from off the green from around 30 feet.

"I missed a couple of makeable ones on 14 and 18 but five under was a really good score as the conditions were a bit tougher than they had been in the morning.

"I had a lesson from my coach Adam Hunter the Monday before last and he noticed I was aiming left when putting. I've always done that but it was further left than usual so he bought a Dave Pelz putting trainer online and sent it to me and I've started rolling it nicely."

 

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