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Form horse Stenson among frontrunners in Rome

Form horse Stenson among frontrunners in Rome

Henrik Stenson's fine recent form continued on the opening day of the DS Automobiles Italian Open as he fired a flawless 64 to sit in a three way tie at the top of a star studded leaderboard.


The 45-year-old Swede had strengthened his case for a Ryder Cup wildcard by following up his share of fourth spot in the D+D Real Czech Masters with a third place finish at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club last week.

And the 2016 Open Championship winner impressed once again on Thursday, notching seven birdies and no bogeys at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club to join fellow early starters Kalle Samooja and Min Woo Lee on seven under par.

After opening his round with back to back birdies at the tenth and 11th, Stenson picked up shots on the 16th and 18th courtesy of close range birdie putts.

Further gains at the third, fourth and sixth took him to seven under and he parred his way home to keep his card clean.

As calm morning conditions were replaced by the wind in the afternoon, none of the later starters were able to match the co-leaders' 18 hole total.

It was local favourite Edoardo Molinari who came closest to doing so, joining the group on six under with a 65 that contained a brilliant hole-in-one at the short seventh.

That saw the Italian walk away with a brand new car, and he would finish the day alongside morning starters Eddie Pepperell and Scott Hend in a tie for fourth, one shot behind the leaders.

Like Stenson, Australian Lee started from the tenth tee on Thursday and he made six birdies and a single bogey in a front nine of 31. 

The two time European Tour winner then added further birdies at the third and sixth on his way to a 64.

Samooja, meanwhile, turned in 31 after carding four birdies on the front nine before picking up three more at the tenth, 12th and 14th.

He dropped his first shot of the day at the 17th but secured a bounce back birdie on the par five last to return to seven under.

Stenson, who also shot two bogey free rounds in Prague and one in Switzerland last week, was pleased with his performance on day one in Rome.

He said: "Once again I think I played a good round of golf. 

"I don’t want to make any mistakes in terms of missing fairways and greens, but the few times I did I managed to keep a clean card and made some lovely putts to keep it tidy, so very happy with that.

"More than anything I feel like I am in a good frame of mind to play golf and to try and get the best score out of my game.

"There is still more to wish for, but we've got to take the positives and keep on working on the rest."

Lee was also happy with his opening round, saying: "It was really good. I hit it really good off the tee, didn’t really give myself position to make bogey.

"I made one but other than that I played solid and made my up-and-downs when I needed to."

Samooja said: "There was some good golf today. Comparing to last week, I was really struggling with everything and today I wasn’t struggling with anything, so it was a nice morning walk.

"I was missing everything last week with the putter and the driver. I had a few good practice days, and this course seems nice, and the greens are pure.

"You need to play some good golf here, hit some good shots to go low and that’s what I managed to do today."

England's Tommy Fleetwood was in a share of seventh place on five under along with Nicolai Højgaard, Francesco Laporta and Adri Arnaus.

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