Sjoholm leads Slattery by one after first round of BMW Italian Open

Joel Sjoholm at the BMW Italian Open
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Joel Sjoholm "was in the woods a lot and made some funny birdies" in en route to what he called a "big, fighting 64."
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PGA.com news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012 | 2:39 p.m.

TURIN, Italy -- Joel Sjoholm of Sweden shot an 8-under 64 Thursday to lead by one stroke over Lee Slattery of England after the first round of the BMW Italian Open on the European Tour.

Sjoholm made eight birdies on the 7,282-yard Royal Park I Roveri course, while Slattery picked up three shots in his last four holes.

"I hit it basically everywhere," Sjoholm said. "I was in the woods a lot and made some funny birdies today. It was a big, fighting 64 rather than a solid 64. But it's great fun to be 8 under."

Seven players were tied for third at 6 under. They are Englishmen Richard McEvoy, Richard Bland and David Howell, South Africans Garth Mulroy and Keith Horne, Victor Dubuisson of France and Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland.

The 27-year-old Sjoholm's best career result also came on Italian soil, having finished third in last year's Sicilian Open. He missed the cuts by a single stroke in both Switzerland and the Netherlands in the past two weeks.

"I want revenge," said Sjoholm, who was born in Chile and adopted as a baby. "The last two weeks I actually played quite good golf ... Both times I felt like I had a good chance to make the cut, but you have to forget and keep moving on.

"I know that I have to play better golf tomorrow," he added. "I'm not going to make these sort of birdies four rounds in a row."

Local favorite Francesco Molinari, the 2006 winner, led a Ryder Cup-bound trio at 4 under. Martin Kaymer is at 2 under and captain's pick Nicolas Colsaerts was a stroke further back.

With the Ryder Cup only two weeks away, European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal is also in the field and shot a 70.

"It's fun playing in front of the home crowd, but there's a lot of pressure and everyone wants you to do well," Molinari said. "It was nice to spend some time together (with Kaymer and Colsaerts), and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun in America as well. We talked a little about a few things, but not too much."

Molinari's brother Edoardo made his return after three months out following wrist surgery and scored 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys in his native Turin.

"The wrist is feeling good. I'm very happy with it," he said. "There is absolutely no pain at all.

"It's an okay start. I was very rusty," he explained. "I hit the ball quite poorly to be honest, but it's more than two months since I last played in competition. It's going to be a long way back to the top but I'll get there."

Defending champion Robert Rock opened with a 70.