Danny Willett was delighted to be back near his best after carding an opening 65 at the Italian Open.
The Englishman has endured a roller coaster since winning his maiden Major Championship at the Masters Tournament in 2016, registering just four top tens including finishing second at this event two years ago.
The 30 year old arrived at Gardagolf Country Club having made just one cut in 2018 but the Rolex Series appears to have brought out the best in him, with his lowest round since last season's Portugal Masters handing him an excellent start
"It's been a while," he said. "Really good work.
"We played really well, got the ball in play a lot which you have to do around here.
"It's almost a good and a bad thing, not being in the position for a while of going low. But then, at the same time, you're really enjoying actually having the potential to go low and then to make some more birdies.
"I hit a lot of good golf shots. It kind of puts things into perspective when you've not been playing so well, if you do hit a couple of bad ones, you take a bit of pressure off yourself."
Thomas Pieters was another man to rediscover some form in Italy, carding his lowest round since the Desert Swing to join Willett at six under.
The big-hitting Belgian missed the cut at last week's BMW PGA Championship and was happy to have his driving under control again.
"I kept the ball in play, unlike last week when I was struggling off the tee," he said. "The putter was going well and I had a lot of chances for birdies, just missed a couple.
"It's not been a great season yet but there's big ones coming up now and we'll see."
Ross Fisher was also six under after a brilliant birdie-birdie-eagle finish as he looks to go one better than last year's runner-up finish.
"I felt like I played solid," he said. "Went through a tough spell, hit some good putts that were just catching the edges and weren't going in. I knew something had to change and holed a couple of putts, which was nice.
"It was disappointing to drop one but then to finish birdie-birdie and then to close out with a holed second shot, sign for 65, I'm delighted.
"It was perfect. 110 yards to the pin, just a low, little sand wedge and it was literally straight down the pin from my line and to hear the crowd's reaction that it's gone in, great way to sign off."
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