Keith Horne found some consistency with the putter at the BMW Italian Open and fired a 66 at Royal Park I Roveri on Thursday, leaving himself nicely poised in a share for third after the first round.
“I’m pleased to have had a good start for a change. I’ve been putting myself under pressure in the first rounds lately, so it’s nice to have a six-under on the board first up,” he said.
Horne, who had perhaps been guilty of not converting chances in previous weeks, began to roll in the putts as he offset a bogey and a double bogey with nine birdies en route to a six-way tie for third place.
“It was a strange one. Lately I feel like I’ve been playing really well, but struggling to get the scores going because the putter has been letting me down. Today I felt like I hit the ball as badly as I’ve hit it in the last few months, but the putter was on form, so that was great. It’s always good to make some putts, and nine birdies shows that the putter was working. If I can find a swing on the range this afternoon I’ll be very happy,” he said.
The par 72 layout near Torino offered up plenty of scoring opportunities on what was a very calm day. But most strikingly, the course bore stark resemblance to South African highveld courses with its landscape and tall trees, and the South Africans appeared to be right at home.
“It definitely had the feel of a Royal Johannesburg or Glendower. It always helps you feel more comfortable on the golf course when you are in surroundings that feel familiar,” he said.
Fellow South African Garth Mulroy had an equally impressive opening round as he carded a bogey free 66 to join Horne in a share of third place.
“It was a fun day, I had lots of good looks at putts and finally made one on the last, so that was nice. I was lucky enough to hit quite a few close, so it actually didn’t feel like I was making anything, especially after the turn,” he said.
Mulroy also echoed Horne’s thoughts about the familiarity of the golf course, and how comfortable he felt as a result.
“I like the course a lot. It actually reminded me a lot of home with its big trees, its got a good feeling around here and made me feel like I was playing in Johannesburg. The greens were soft, but rather weird though. I’m sure the guys will figure it out, but they don’t spin back, so you have to pitch it where you want it to finish,” he said.
Having missed two of his last four cuts on the European Tour, Mulroy finds himself 113th on the Order of Merit, and a strong finish here would do him no harm.
“I’ve turned the corner I think,” he said. “Hopefully I can enjoy some good form now and have a great run here to finish the year off.”