Soderberg and Hoey lead at Verdura

Sebastian Soderberg and Michael Hoey grabbed a share of the lead on the opening day of the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily.

Swede Soderberg set the early target in the morning as he flirted with a historic 59 before settling for a 10-under-par 61. 

The 26-year-old made an eagle and eight birdies in a flawless round at Verdura Golf Club, and looked set for the solo lead before Northern Irishman Hoey equalled his effort later in the day.

Hoey was bogey-free as well as he notched up 10 birdies on a great day for scoring in Italy.

South African Zander Lombard was just one shot off the lead after a 62, with Alvaro Quiros, German Sebastian Heisele and South African Jbe Kruger following on eight under.

A Challenge Tour winner last year, Soderberg has put himself in a prime position for a maiden European Tour title in only his 15th event.

He made birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth before an eagle on the ninth really got him going.

A birdie-birdie start on the back nine brought a 59 into the picture, but Soderberg then had a run of five straight pars to erase those chances.

Two more birdies at 17 and 18 nevertheless put the finishing touches on a fantastic round.

"That (59) was all I thought about walking down the par five 12th," he 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.

"So far this season it hasn't been quite good. Thankfully most of the pieces fell together today. It was a really good day."