Soderberg and Hoey flirt with 59s in Sicily
Sebastian Soderberg and Michael Hoey both shot 61 to share the lead at 10 under after a day of easy scoring in the opening round of the Rocco Forte Open on Thursday.
With the event returning to the European Tour schedule for the first time since 2012, the defences of the Verdura Golf Club near Agrigento were down in balmy conditions.
The majority of the field took advantage in Sicily, but it was the Swede and Northern Irishman who set the bar highest.
Soderberg's highlight was an eagle three at the ninth to go with eight birdies in a blistering bogey-free effort.
That was then matched by Hoey, who, starting at the 11th on a composite course also went bogey free and, with 10 birdies in total, at one point, like his fellow frontrunner, had designs on the magical 59, although both men ultimately fell just short.
"That [shooting 59] was all I thought about walking down the par five 12th," Soderberg said.
"For me it kind of helped me to help keep me going, I didn't feel like it stopped me. I definitely had a couple of putts the last seven holes that could have run in. Overall, great round."
Of the putts that could have helped him achieve the landmark score, Hoey said: "It was hard to hit them past the hole but it's nice to be nervous because I haven't been nervous on a golf course for quite a while and it's exciting to be such a good score.
"My best ever score by two shots, no bogeys, doesn't get much better."
Nick Cullen and Alvaro Quiros grabbed a share of the spotlight with respective aces at the seventh and 13th - the Spaniard's effort helping him to a share of fourth at eight under, one shot behind Zander Lombard in outright third.
Hole-in-one alert!-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 18, 2017
Alvaro Quiros aces the 191-yard 13th with a 7-iron. pic.twitter.com/3y2dg5rRmT
Francesco Laporta, five under in tied 18th, was the best placed Italian in the field, with countrymen Matteo Manassero and amateur Luca Cianchetti a shot back at four under.