Horacio Carbonetti (Getty Images)
With the help of his caddie, a local lady named Cecilia, Argentine Horacio Carbonetti defied treacherous conditions to post a highly creditable round of 70 on the opening day of the inaugural Sicilian Senior Open.
Carbonetti, currently 49th on the Senior Tour Order of Merit and without a top ten finish all season, made light of the heavy weather at Il Picciolo Golf Club, on the holiday island of Sicily, to set the clubhouse target on two under par.
With persistent rain rendering low scoring highly difficult, Carbonetti displayed the surest of touches to register just one bogey – and that came at the fiendishly tough 11th hole, which at 472 yards in length is yet to see a birdie all day.
By his own admission the Argentine was also the recipient of some good fortune, having found his ball after wayward drives at the 12th and 17th holes.
And Carbonetti was also fortunate to have Cecilia carrying his clubs, as her local knowledge on the greens meant he needed just 30 putts – at least five better than in an average round.
He said: “I was only really in trouble on three holes, and managed to save par on two of them. So I’m very happy with my round today, because it was so tough in the rain. The key was my putting – normally I have at least 35 or 36 putts in a round, so to have 30 was fantastic.
“I started off well with a birdie putt from nine feet on the first, and after that my confidence just grew. Many times my confidence is low out on the course, but after my good start today it was very high. My caddie Cecilia was also a very big help on the greens – she knows this course very well, so I have to say a big thanks to her.
“My only bogey of the day came at the 11th, but it’s playing like a par five. I still had 230 yards to go with my second shot, so I came up short of the green and couldn’t get up and down. But overall I was very pleased with my day – I just hope the weather tomorrow will be a bit better.”
The only other player to finish under par so far was Spaniard Juan Quiros who, despite two sixes on his card, signed for a one under par round of 71.
Quiros, who finished fourth at last week’s Benhavis Senior Masters, carded five birdies but gave shots back with bogeys at the sixth and 11th holes, and a double bogey at the 16th.
Earlier in the day England’s Carl Mason, chasing his 24th Senior Tour title to overtake his compatriot Tommy Horton’s record haul, finished on one over par after an up and down round of 73.
Mason reached the turn in 38 after a front nine which was blighted by bogeys at the sixth and eighth holes and a double bogey at the seventh, but recovered on the way in with a one under par 35 courtesy of birdies at the tenth and 15th holes.
He said: “The course is tough enough anyway, but in the rain it was very tough indeed. Anyone who shoots below par today in those conditions has played very well. So I was actually pleased with a 73 in the end, because it looked at one point as though I was going to run up a pretty big score.”