Norway’s Knut Borsheim shot a Challenge Tour season low nine of 28 to seize a narrow lead before thunderstorms forced abandonment in the first day of the Mugello Tuscany Open in Italy.
Borsheim came flying out of the blocks at the UNA Poggio dei Medici Golf Club as six birdies and an eagle saw the 26 year old Bergen native reach the turn on eight under par.
The former American college star added a further birdie at the second and a first drop of the day at the following hole to lead by one overnight as play was suspended for the day at 1811 when turbulent weather rolled in.
One shot back following a sublime 64 was Italian Andrea Rota, while Korea’s Jin Jeong, South African Dylan Fritelli and French debutant Adrien Saddier were tied for third on six under par.
On what was a sweltering, breathless Thursday in Florence, Borsheim’s heroics in the afternoon had been preceded by a putting masterclass from home favourite Rota, who found six birdies and a valuable eagle at the par five last en route to a splendid opening total of seven under par in the morning session.
The Bergamo man holed countless putts from ten to 12 feet, while a 32-foot effort for birdie at the 12th was trumped by a 50-foot monster for eagle at the 568-yard 18th.
“The greens are very pure here and my putting was very nice today,” said Rota. “I also didn’t make any mistakes from the tee and with the perfect weather everything felt easy today.
“I was solid all round without doing anything too crazy good. Obviously those two big putts at the 12th and for the eagle at the 18th helped turn a good day into a great one score-wise.”
The 2013 campaign has proved a mixed affair thus far for Bergamo born Rota, having mixed two top five finishes – including a third place at the Montecchia Golf Open presented by POLAROID in his native Italy – with six missed cuts but he says the margins of top-level golf are narrow.
He continued: “I’ve actually been playing really well this season. When I’ve missed the cut this year it has only been by one or two shots so I have never felt like I have been playing that badly.
“I know that when I really get going I can shoot a lot under par but you need that bit of luck too. I concentrated well today and it’s a good start so hopefully that can continue tomorrow.”
Saddier, who only days ago turned professional after helping his French side to a bronze medal finish at the European Amateur Team Championship in Denmark last week, made a dream start to his embryonic career dropping just one shot en route to a fine 65.
Five birdies were complemented by an eagle at the long 18th, after Saddier hit a superb three-wood to ten feet.
“I hit the ball very well and found 17 greens today,” said the 21 year old. “The eagle at 18 made it a good game and a great start to my life as a professional.
“My aim is to play on The European Tour but this is just the beginning so I won’t put too much pressure on myself and will play to learn.”
Round one will re-start at 0800 local time on Friday with a one hour delay on all round two tee times.