Rock handles late challenge from Oleson to capture BMW Italian Open

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Robert Rock Rock started shakily on Sunday, but four successive birdies from the fifth put him back in charge.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, June 12, 2011 | 1:50 p.m.

Robert Rock held off a stunning charge from Thorbjorn Olesen Sunday to claim his first victory on the European Tour at the BMW Italian Open.

The veteran Englishman carded a final-round 67 to finish on 21 under, one shot ahead of Olesen, who had earlier set a challenging clubhouse lead after a wonderful 62, and Gary Boyd. Peter Whiteford was fourth, two shots behind Rock.

"I have been waiting a long time to be even in with a chance of doing this,” said Rock. "I played good today so I am very happy.

"It's a fantastic feeling, it's one of my favorite courses now,” he added. “Since they changed the venue, I have done well here. I was expecting to do well this week but not really expecting this."

Rock started shakily, bogeying the third before four successive birdies from the fifth put him back in charge. He picked up more shots at the 10th, 11th and 13th, with the only blemish coming at the 12th.

He held his nerve impressively over the closing holes, apart from at the 17th when a wayward tee shot left him in the trees. But he cracked an iron onto the fairway, with the ball missing a tree by a matter of inches, before pitching to 12 feet and holing his par putt.

"I was just waiting for the first putt to go in today to believe I was still putting well," he added. "I holed quite a nice one on the par 5, but I was a bit cautious on a few putts opening up. But when the first one went in, I felt comfortable."

Olesen had nine birdies and an eagle in a fantastic round that threatened to derail Rock, who had led the event from the outset.

"It was amazing to start with two birdies and then hole my second shot for an eagle at the third," he said. "I think it's the first time I've holed a full shot in a tournament so it felt magic.

"Just 23 putts. I spoke to Thomas Bjorn after my third round and he gave me a little lesson, so thanks Thomas,” he added. “My golf has been good last week and this week. I found something in my swing."

Boyd capped an impressive few days with a closing 66. He had eight birdies and two bogeys over the Royal Park I Roveri course to finish just ahead of Whiteford.