Thursday, 18 May 2017
Day 1 Highlights - The Rocco Forte Open

Sebastian Soderberg and Michael Hoey will take a share of the lead into day two of The Rocco Forte Open - Verdura, Sicily after firing brilliant rounds of 61 at Verdura Golf Club.

Swede Soderberg set the target in the morning as he flirted with a historic 59 with an eagle and eight birdies to get to ten under.

That looked as if it would hold the solo lead but Northern Irishman Hoey had other ideas and made ten birdies to join Soderberg in posting a career-best tournament round.

On a day of low scoring due to calm conditions, South African Zander Lombard was just one shot off the lead, with the resurgent Alvaro Quiros, German Sebastian Heisele and South African Jbe Kruger then at eight under.

Soderberg has a win on the Challenge Tour at last season's Barclays Kenya Open and made a brilliant start as he searches for a first European Tour win in just his 15th event.

Hoey is a five-time winner and veteran of 284 tournaments and his performance represented an excellent return to form after losing his playing privileges last season.

Soderberg made birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth before an eagle on the ninth helped him turn in 30.

A birdie-birdie start on the back nine then moved him clear of the field as mutters of a 59 began to circulate round the course.

Thankfully most of the pieces fell together today. It was a really good day - Sebastian Soderberg

A run of five pars put paid to those hopes but the 26 year old then rolled a birdie down the hill at the 17th before an eight-footer on the last moved him to double figures.

"That (59) was all I thought about walking down the par five 12th," he said. "For me it kind of helped me to help keep me going, I didn't feel like it stopped me. I definitely had a couple of putts the last seven holes that could have run in. Overall, great round.

"So far this season it hasn't been quite good. Thankfully most of the pieces fell together today. It was a really good day."

Hoey birdied his opener on the 11th and added further gains on the 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, first, second and third to once again tease the prospect of a 59.

He then made four pars in a row but a stunning approach to the eighth produced a birdie and when he found the fringe on the par five ninth with his second, the record was still a possibility.

He had to settle for a birdie, however, after leaving his putt short and made a par on his last after repeating the trick.

"I left it in the jaws, both putts, but I was nervous," he said. "It was hard to hit them past the hole but it's nice to be nervous because I haven't been nervous on a golf course for quite a while and it's exciting to be such a good score.

"My best ever score by two shots, no bogeys, doesn't get much better."

My best ever score by two shots, no bogeys, doesn't get much better - Michael Hoey

A birdie-birdie finish catapulted Lombard up the leaderboard after he had earlier made gains on the 15th, 16th, 17th, first, second, fourth and sixth.

Spaniard Quiros fired a second consecutive eight under par round on the European Tour, including the 16th hole-in-one of the season when he holed a seven iron from 191 yards on the 13th.

Heisele, fresh off a top five in Portugal last week, had an eagle on the fourth to go with six birdies while Kruger made a single bogey in his 63.

English pair David Horsey and Lee Slattery, Portuguese José-Filipe Lima, China's Li Haotong and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva were at seven under, a shot clear of a group including Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn.

Australian Nick Cullen then made the second ace of the day and took the tally for the season to 17 when he holed his tee-shot on the par three seventh.

Get Adobe Flash player

Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-14
2LOMBARD, ZanderRSA18-14
3LI, HaotongCHN18-13
4ANGLES, PepESP18-12
T5FRASER, MarcusAUS18-11

European Tour Partners

  • Rolex
  • BMW
  • Dubai Duty Free
  • Emirates
  • Hilton
  • Titleist

Media Centre

Official Partner

Official Suppliers

This website is © The PGA European Tour 1997 - 2018. PGA European Tour, Wentworth Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey, GU25 4LX. Registered in England No. 1867610.
All rights reserved. No reproduction, distribution or transmission of any information, part or parts of this website by any means whatsoever is permitted without the prior written permission of the PGA European Tour.