TURIN, Italy -- Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium took a share of the lead in the first round of the Lindt Italian Open on Thursday.
The Ryder Cup standout shot a 65 at the Golf Club Torino to join Ricardo Gonzalez and Maximilian Kieffer at 7 under.
Colsaerts withdrew from last week's KLM Open with the flu and appears to have benefited from some time at home.
"Nothing beats being back home with your mum looking after you," Colsaerts said.
Gonzalez missed three cuts in a row since finishing as runner-up at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles but he was on form with six birdies, one bogey and an eagle. Kieffer had a 25-foot putt for the outright lead at the last hole but had to settle for a par.
After a bogey on the 10th hole – his first – Colsaerts recorded a remarkable run of six straight birdies. He gained another shot at the 18th, before a steady back nine that featured eight straight pars and a birdie at the last.
“Apart from the bogey at the 10th, my first hole of the day, I got off to an amazing start and was kind of flying on my front nine,” he added. “Then I didn’t make birdie on the first, which is an easy par 5, and then there were a few occasions where I had wedge in hand and didn’t give myself the chances for birdies that I probably should have. It was nice to finish with a birdie though and get a good round in.
“It should have really have been 8 or 9 under after the start I made, but I kind of got a bit sloppy on the inward nine,” he added. “I was just a bit too far away from those flags to make the birdies and get to a really low number.”
Colsaerts was not the only one of the leaders to have been laid low recently, with Kieffer also suffering the effects of a cold in the tournament build-up.
“I’m very happy, 65 is a very good score,” he said. “I didn’t feel so good coming here because I wasn’t hitting it that well the last few weeks and I’ve had a cold.
“I wasn’t really expecting a lot and I just took it shot for shot. Mentally it’s nice to shoot a good score, you always feel better when you’re playing well and have a good score so hopefully I’ll have another three good rounds.”
Australian Marcus Fraser was a shot behind in fourth after a 66, with England’s Steve Webster and Ireland’s David Higgins on 5 under.
Local favorite Francesco Molinari made a good start with a 68, while another Italian star, Matteo Manassero, opened with a 70 – the same score as Retief Goosen in his first competitive appearance for four months.