Spaniard Javi Colomo and Dutchman Floris De Vries share the lead on four under par 67 after the first round of the Mugello Tuscany Open in Italy.
The pair finished one shot clear of Swede Peter Gustafsson, Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen, Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Austrian Roland Steiner after mastering some tricky conditions on the challenging 7,114 yard, par 71 course at UNA Poggio dei Medici Golf Club, near Florence.
De Vries was bogey-free in his round, picking up three shots on the back nine to add to his solitary birdie on the fifth hole before the turn.
“I’m very happy with that start and I holed some great putts and my short game was very good,” he said. “I made a lot of up and downs to save par and that kept my momentum going.
“I was one under through 12 and nothing was really happening. I birdied 13 then on 15 I was 20 metres from the hole and my putt was flying past but it hit the flag and went in. That was a bit of luck for me then I hit it to two feet on 16 for another birdie to go to four under. I was a bit disappointed not to birdie 18 but it was a good start.”
The 20 year old opened with a 64 in the last event, the ALLIANZ Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, before finishing in a share of 17th place but he is determined to keep it going this week following another fine start.
“I’m normally a slow starter but I’ve started well in three of the five tournaments so far this year,” he said. “Hopefully I can learn from those experiences.”
Colomo is playing in his first Challenge Tour event of the season after three appearances in the Spanish tournaments on The European Tour.
Starting on the tenth tee he posted four birdies on his front nine to reach the turn in 31. He picked up another birdie on the first hole - his tenth – before his first bogey of the day on the fourth.
The 26 year old added another birdie on the seventh but bogeyed the last when his putt ran off the green.
That putt aside, Colomo said his confidence on the greens was the key to his superb start.
“I played very well and I was confident with the putter today,” said Colomo. “I was relaxed all the way round which is something that I have been working on with my psychologist.
“It was quite difficult out there with the wind on some holes, especially on my second nine. I actually putted off the green on the last hole.
“I’ve played the three Spanish events on The European Tour so far this season but this is my first Challenge Tour event so it is a good start. I’ve got a good category after reaching the Qualifying School Final Stage so I can choose my events so I missed the long travel to Colombia and Kenya.
“Last season I didn’t play too well – I only had two good results – but I’ve been working on my confidence. We are all good players here so a lot of it is mental and I’m trying to be more confident in myself.”
Santos had led for most of the morning after a stunning six under par opening nine of 30 but came back in 38 shots for his three under par 68. Larsen, playing in the penultimate group, then led out on the course after posting seven birdies but slipped back after a double bogey on his 11th and then back-to-back-bogeys to finish his round.
Scotland’s former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart, is in a group of ten players a shot further back on two under par, along with Emanuele Canonica and Alessandro Tadini, who are the leading Italians.