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Thursday, 09 June 2011
Robert Rock  (Getty Images)
Robert Rock (Getty Images)

Compatriots Robert Rock and Chris Wood lead the way at the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi after the playing partners spurred each other on at Royal Park I Riveri.

Both seeking their first European Tour titles, the English duo both carded eight under par rounds of 64 to lead by one from Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.

“We seem to be drawn together quite a lot, probably four or five times already this year,” said Rock, who birdied his last five holes.

The 34 year old, who came nearest to breaking his victory drought when he lost a play-off to Shane Lowry at the 2009 Irish Open, produced a stunning finish that included ten foot birdie putts at the seventh and ninth (his 16th and final holes).

“Nine birdies and one bogey was good,” he said. “I love this course and it was good to be in a group where someone else was knocking them in and I enjoyed playing with Chris.

“I holed quite a lot of putts today, which is something that has been testing me over the last couple of months.

“Tee to green my game has been good. Driving the ball well for a long time and my iron play has been okay. My short game hasn't been so hot, and at Wentworth I was bottom of the putting stats for the whole week and that was disappointing.

“I've been trying a lot of things and speaking to everyone to try and find something that will make a bit of improvement, so thank you to everyone who has helped!”

Rock was not the only one enjoying the company - Wood incredibly bettering Rock’s inward 30.

“It was good playing with Rocky and we seemed to fire off each other. It was a good round without a bogey - always nice to play that way,” said the 23 year old, who turned in a one under par 35 but needed just 29 shots on the front nine.

He started with a hattrick of gains from the first, birdied the long fifth, holed a 12 foot eagle putt after a magnificent second on the par five eighth and struck a fine approach to five feet on the ninth to set up another birdie.

Wood narrowly missed out on his first victory last month when Darren Clarke overhauled his four shot final round lead in Mallorca, but a back injury has been causing him problems since.

“I wasn't expecting to go that low,” said the World Number 111, who finished third here last year. “I withdrew last week with a little injury and had been struggling a little bit but sometimes it pays not to do a lot of practice. It took me a while to get going with eight pars in a row and then a birdie on the 18th then 29 on the back nine.

“I've been struggling with my back for a while, a little on-going problem that I have at the moment - I am feeling it.”

Jamieson, who recently topped the Category 11 re-rank, was delighted to pick up five shots in four holes at the start of his back nine.

“I couldn't have asked for a better start to the back nine - birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie - and that got me going,” he said.

“My form disappeared for a couple of weeks but nice to get back into the swing of things and  hope I can kick on. It happens when you are trying to swing a club around your head at 100mph and half a degree here or there can make a big difference.

“My coach was with me in Wales and hopefully this is the start of another run of form. Nice to get a check up and see if everything is where it should be - and it wasn't!”

Olesen and Cabrera Bello both produced bogey-free rounds to lie one ahead of a group that includes home favourites Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero.

“From tee to green it was brilliant,” said Challenge Tour graduate Olesen. “I holed a one and a half metre putt at the sixth for my third birdie in a row and I started to think it was going to be a good day! I've struggled for the last few months but I am close to finding my game again.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ROCK, RobertENG18-21
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-20
T2BOYD, GaryENG18-20
4WHITEFORD, PeterSCO18-19
5LUITEN, JoostNED18-18
T6JONZON, MichaelSWE18-17
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