FORMER Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts fired eight birdies in a row on his way to a 63 to claim the first-round lead in the Italian Open.
Starting on the back nine at Golf Club Milano in the Parco Reale di Monza, home to the world famous motor racing circuit, Colsaerts began with four pars before five straight birdies from the 14th took him out in 31.
Colsaerts then got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-5 first and also birdied the second and third to make it eight in a row, although the preferred lies in operation mean the 32-year-old did not officially equal the European Tour record.
However, a ninth birdie of the day on the eighth gave Colsaerts a two-shot lead over India’s Shiv Kapur, former champion Francesco Molinari and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett leads the Yorkshire quartet involved with a 68. Starting at the 10th, he shed a shot at the next but responded with five birdies in seven holes from the 14th. A further bogey at the fourth was negated by a closing birdie.
Fellow Sheffielder Matthew Fitzpatrick shot 70 with a bogey at the third and birdies at holes nine, 14 and 16.
One shot further back is Harrogate’s John Parry, who was three over after six but hit back with five birdies in his next nine holes, albeit with a bogey at the sixth.
Hull’s Richard Finch shot a level-par 72. He was one under through six, two birdies sandwiching a bogey at the fifth, and slipped to two over with three successive bogeys from the 13th.
However, he closed with birdies at 16 and 18 to finish the day as he had begun it.