Change of caddie brings change of fortune for Rock on Day 1 in Spain

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In his first round with Andy Forsyth on the bag, Robert Rock started the Andalucia Open with a 5-under-par 65.
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PA Sport

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Robert Rock is closing in on 200 European Tour events without a win, but maybe a change of caddie is about to bring a change of luck.

In his first round with Andy Forsyth on the bag, Rock started the Andalucia Open with a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday and shares the lead with fellow Englishman Jamie Elson and Swedes Johan Edfors, Oscar Floren and Rikard Karlberg.

2011 ANDALUCIA OPEN

European Tour star Miguel Angel Jimenez is the promoter of the Andalucia Open, which is played in his hometown of Malaga, Spain.

"Things had got a little bit stale. We got on fine, but nothing was really happening and a change was probably the easiest option,” said Rock, who had been with caddie Jamie Lane for years. "I've been playing good but not getting on any run of birdies or building any momentum."

That was the way it seemed to be again when he stood level par with eight holes to play, but then came five birdies for a front nine of 29.

Rock has had three runner-up finishes in his career and even walked away with the winning checke at the 2009 Irish Open because amateur Shane Lowry beat him in a play-off.

Elson was on the same winning Walker Cup team as Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald, but 10 years on doesn’t have a full tour card and needed a top-10 finish in Sicily to qualify for this week's event. The 29-year-old, whose father Pip was the circuit's rookie of the year in 1973, tied for fifth on Monday, and on the back of that went to the turn in 30 before adding another birdie at the long 12th.

"My fairways hit stats last year were abysmal and that's why I lost my card, but I went over to the States over Christmas and made some really ground-breaking changes, so I'm delighted," Elson said. "The first time I had a card was 2004 and perhaps it came a bit early for me. I didn't really know what I was doing."

Edfors is still waiting to add to his three wins during the 2006 season, but four birdies in the last seven holes brought him into the picture, as did the two closing birdies of Challenge Tour graduate Floren.

Karlberg, meanwhile, is playing on an invitation despite having earned almost $300,000 for third place in the Singapore Open last November. The 24-year-old wasn’t allowed to count it toward the Order of Merit, however, because he was a member of the Challenge Tour and failed to play in the required seven events there.

Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie is in the group one behind, while Ryder Cup captains past and present, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, had level-par rounds of 70.

Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and tournament promoter Miguel Angel Jimenez are the only two members of the world's top 50 in the field, but they could do no better than 71 and 72 respectively, while Australian Richard Green, who would have an outside chance of qualifying for the Masters if he wins, is also 1 over.