And Gagli revealed his improvement is in part down to Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain.
“A couple of weeks before the Spanish Open I spent five days with José María Olazábal at San Domenico,” he said.
“He is a very good and generous person and a great player. I learnt a lot that week because I saw in him the love of the game.
“He doesn’t play golf for the money, he plays because he loves golf. After playing we couldn’t get him to leave the course, he would be chipping with his sand wedge until dark. In the evenings he told us a lot of stories about playing in The Ryder Cup with Seve.”
Rumford had only one dropped shot in his 68, with five birdies highlighted by an approach to four feet at the seventh.
“It was a good day – I was playing great from tee to green,” said Rumford.
“I just wasn’t quite reading the lines properly and my pace was a little bit out.
“It’s nice to be able to get back to doing what I need to do to play well.”
Defending champion and World Number One Luke Donald holed out from a bunker on the fifth, but a two under 70 left him tied for tenth on eight under and with plenty to do to try and catch his compatriot Slattery.
At 136th on The Race to Dubai Slattery has the opportunity to end any concerns about his European Tour future, but he is determined to put that to the back of his mind for the time being.
“It’s all about not thinking about the big picture,” he added. “It’s very hard to do – if you say don’t think about a pink elephant you automatically think of that but there are techniques you can use to switch off.
“This is why we play the game. It doesn’t get much better than this where you can play in front of fans in great weather on great courses.”
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