Golf: Spotlight falls on inaugural Sicilian open

Verdura Resort

 SCIACCA-- The inaugural Rocco Forte Sicilian Open got underway Thursday at the majestic Verdura Resort on the island's south coastline. Featuring some of the finest views on the European Tour, the championship course is a combination of 18 holes from the two courses the resort boasts.

 The result is a stunning Par 71, measuring just over 7200 yards with a testing closing stretch where water comes into play on several of the crucial holes, sure to produce plenty of drama on Sunday afternoon. Despite the beautiful Mediterranean sea lurking to punish any wayward shots, scoring was low on Round 1 as Northern Irishman Michael Hoey and Swede Sebastian Soderberg fired 10 under 61s to catapult themselves to the top of the leaderboard.

 There was also success for Spaniard Álvaro Quiros, who continued his recent resurgence with a sparking 8 under par 63, which included a hole in one at the 201 yard par 3 13th. Home favourite Matteo Manassero recovered well from a slow start to post a 4 under round of 67. The four time European Tour winner is yet to kick on from his early success as a teenager and will be looking to use this start as a spring board to big things this week in Sicily.

 The conditions were perfect for low scoring, a gentle breeze and soft greens meant that 115 players posted under par rounds on a successful opening day of the tournament. The wind is expected to pick up over the weekend and as the nerves increase with money on the line, the players will unlikely continue to produce such low scores as witnessed on Thursday.