Mats Lanner drew inspiration from last weekend’s Swedish victories on the European and US Tours by smashing the course record in the first round of the Fiat and Fila Italian Open at CircoloGolf, Torino.
The 38 year old, one of the Swedish pioneers on the European Tour, grabbed nine birdies and one eagle in his 10 under par round, which broke the 34-year-old course record by three shots.
Lanner, who lost his card in 1996 and had two years in the wilderness before winning the Madeira Island Open last June, leads by three strokes from another Swede, Per Nyman, and England’s Gary Evans, who both fired rounds of 65.
Last Sunday, Jarmo Sandelin won the Peugeot Open de España in Barcelona while Jesper Parnevik captured the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic in the United States.
Once again, the unstoppable Swedes were firing on all cylinders in Italy, as defending champion Patrik Sjöland also moved into good shape to retain his title by shooting a 67 after bogeying two of the first three holes.
Lanner, who admitted he would probably have quit at the end of last year if his game hadn’t shown improvement, smiled: “I’ve had a few hot days but this was one of my best rounds ever.
“It doesn’t hurt to see the guys doing well (Sandelin, Parnevik). It’s going to inspire you more than anything else. After 14 holes I was 10 under par and it was dead easy. A 59 did cross my mind once or twice but it’s easy to get ahead of yourself.”
Nyman, a Challenge Tour graduate last year, set the early pace with his 65 after an Italian taxi driver “ran five red lights”, as he put it, to get him to the course in time for his tee time.
He was joined later in the day by Evans, who came home in 30 for his seven under par score. He said: “It was a bit scary today. I hit 12 out of 14 fairways and played really solid. I had 26 putts in a round of 65 which is nothing astounding.”
Two more Englishmen, Derrick Cooper and Russell Claydon, are tied for fourth after 66s while Sjoland in one of a group of four players on 67.
However it was Lanner’s day as he moved a long way clear of the two current major champions in the field. José Maria Olazábal, the new Masters champion, shot a 71, which was one better than US Open champion, Lee Janzen.