Home comforts the key for Nicolas Colsaerts
David Higgins two off Italian Open lead on five under, Simon Thornton four under in Turin
David Higgins leads the Irish challenge at the Italian Open on five under. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts had his mother to thank as he claimed a share of the lead after the first round of the Italian Open in Turin.
Colsaerts’s return to action after a four-week break lasted just 18 holes in last week’s KLM Open, the 30-year-old withdrawing from the tournament with flu after shooting an opening round of 73. But a few days of being looked after by his mother worked wonders for the world number 54, who carded eight birdies and just one bogey at Golf Club Torino to join Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez and Germany’s Max Kieffer at the top of the leaderboard.
Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie are one under and one over, respectively, while the Northern Irish duo of Gareth Maybin (74) and Michael Hoey (77) will start their seconds rounds on two over and five over.
“Nothing beats a couple of days at home with your mum looking after you,” Colsaerts admitted. “I was sitting at home on the sofa watching the golf in Holland and was quite happy to be there getting looked after.”
Colsaerts’s only bogey of the day came on the 10th, his opening hole, but he followed that with six birdies in succession and picked up another shot on the 18th to be out in 30.
“I got on that roll early and got pretty low under par and I honestly thought I could probably have got to eight or nine under considering I was flying,” Colsaerts added. “But I got a bit sloppy on the other side and was just too far away from flags to go 10 under or something.
“I didn’t birdie the first, which is an easy par five, and I had a couple of wedges to flags but I think it’s a pretty good start.”
Gonzalez also recorded just one bogey in his 65, adding six birdies and an eagle on the par-five 12th as he rediscovered the form which took him into a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Championship last month.
Since losing out to Tommy Fleetwood at Gleneagles, Gonzalez was disqualified from the Wales Open for signing for an incorrect score and missed the cut in Switzerland and Holland. But the 43-year-old said: “The last two or three weeks I have played with a lot of tension but in practice on Tuesday I told myself to relax and I’m doing well.
“Today I only missed two shots from the tee, on the second and the ninth, and then hit fairways and greens and made some good putts.
“I hit a very bad drive on nine but made birdie and then I was more relaxed. From there I hit a lot of shots close to the hole and that’s the key to making a good score on this course.”
Kieffer is in his rookie season on the European Tour but has already come close to a maiden victory, losing out to France’s Raphael Jacquelin in a record-equalling nine-hole play-off in the Spanish Open in April.
“I’m very pleased with the score today, I actually didn’t feel so confident coming here,” the 23-year-old said. “I wasn’t playing well and I’ve been a bit sick the last two days and wasn’t expecting much so maybe that’s the key. I have a bit of a cold and think I woke my room-mate up all night but maybe when you don’t expect much it goes well.
“It’s been a good year overall, I didn’t expect to play that well in the first few events and secured my card very early. Since then it’s been all right but I am still in a decent position and I am very happy.”
The leading trio were a shot ahead of Australia’s Marcus Fraser, with Turin native Francesco Molinari among a group of players on four under. Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen recorded a two-under-par 70 on his competitive return after four months out with a back injury, while former Open champion David Duval dropped three shots in his last six holes to shoot 75.