Nicolas Colsaerts revealed how a stint at home on the sofa had helped him claim a share of the first round lead at the 70° Open d’Italia Lindt.
The Belgian was forced to withdraw from last week’s KLM Open with flu, but after making a speedy recovery – aided by his mother taking care of him – The Ryder Cup star fired a seven under par 65 at Golf Club Torino to join Ricardo Gonzalez and Maximilian Kieffer.
“Nothing beats being back home with your mum looking after you,” said Colsaerts. “I was sitting at home on the couch watching the golf from Holland and was quite happy to be looked after by my mum on the couch. It was the best place to be for me.”
After a bogey on the tenth hole - his first – Colsaerts recorded a remarkable run of six straight birdies.
He gained another shot at the 18th, before a steady back nine which featured eight straight pars and a birdie at the last.
“Apart from the bogey at the tenth, my first hole of the day, I got off to an amazing start and was kind of flying on my front nine,” he added. “Then I didn’t make birdie on the first which is an easy par five and then there were a few occasions where I had wedge in hand and didn’t give myself the chances for birdies that I probably should have. It was nice to finish with a birdie though and get a good round in.
“It should have really have been eight or nine under after the start I made but I kind of got a bit sloppy on the inward nine – I was just a bit too far away from those flags to make the birdies and get to a really low number.”
Gonzalez had missed three cuts in a row since finishing as runner-up at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, but looked in fine form as he fired six birdies, one bogey and an eagle at the 12th.
“I hit it perfect, I only missed two shots from the tee,” he said. “Then I hit fairways, hit greens, made some good putts and that’s why I shot 65.
“I tried to relax the last two or three weeks but I played with little tension. On Tuesday’s practice I said ‘come on, relax’ and it worked.
“I’m feeling very good and we’ll see what happens over the next three days.”
Kieffer had a 25 foot putt for the outright lead at the last, but had to settle for a par to conclude his eight birdie, one bogey round.
It continued an impressive rookie European Tour campaign for the 23 year old, who currently sits 77th in The Race to Dubai and could force his way into the top 60 and DP World Tour Championship with a good finish this week.
Colsaerts was not the only one of the leaders to have been laid low recently, with Kieffer also suffering the effects of a cold in the tournament build-up.
He said: “I’m very happy, 65 is a very good score. I didn’t feel so good coming here because I wasn’t hitting it that well the last few weeks and I’ve had a cold.
“I wasn’t really expecting a lot and I just took it shot for shot. Mentally it’s nice to shoot a good score, you always feel better when you’re playing well and have a good score so hopefully I’ll have another three good rounds.”
Australian Marcus Fraser was a shot behind in fourth after a 66, with England’s Steve Webster and Ireland’s David Higgins on five under.
Local favourite Francesco Molinari made a good start with a 68, while another Italian star, Matteo Manassero, opened with a two under par 70 – the same score as Retief Goosen on his first competitive appearance for four months.