Joel Sjoholm (Getty Images)
Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm carded a brilliant eight under par 64 to set the first round clubhouse target at the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi.
The 27 year old had eight birdies in his flawless round at Royal Park I Roveri.
That was two ahead of England’s Richard McEvoy and Richard Bland, South Africans Keith Horne and Garth Mulroy and France’s Victor Dubuisson.
Another South African, Richard Sterne, was amongst those on five under, along with Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Swedes Johan Edfors and Michael Jonzon, German Alex Cejka, India’s Shiv Kapur and England’s Sam Little.
Despite his low score, Sjöholm felt he had not necessarily produced his best golf.
“It's more fun now I've finished,” he said. “I hit it basically everywhere. I was in the woods a lot and made some funny birdies today. It was a big, fighting 64 rather than a solid 64, but it's great fun to be eight under.
“I want revenge because the last two weeks I actually played quite good golf. Normally when I score well, I have to putt well. The last few weeks I've putted quite poorly and missed the cut by one stroke. Both times I felt like I had a good chance to make the cut, but you have to forget and keep moving on.”
Sterne - who missed almost all of last season with a back injury - had notched four top-ten finishes in his last nine starts, all without missing a cut.
That good form continued in Turin as the five-time European Tour winner turned in a four under par 32 and, after bogeying the fourth, birdied two of his last four holes for a 67.
"It was pretty good,” said Sterne. “I got off to a nice start but I hadn't played the front nine [his back nine] in a practice round, and only saw the nine that I played quite well. The course is lovely; it suits my eye, it's enjoyable, so hopefully there's something good to come.
“It's nice to get off to a good start for a change. The weather and everything feels like home, same temperature and climate as Pretoria where I grew up, and the trees and the feel of the whole golf course seems like it's in South Africa, so I'm enjoying it.
"I've been solid this year and the last few months, but I'm looking for a win, so we'll see."
Defending champion Robert Rock opened with a two under par 70, while Ryder Cup-bound trio Francesco Molinari, Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts were amongst the afternoon starters.