Lawrie Storm among leaders at Italian Open


TURIN, Italy – Paul Lawrie overcame the worst of Thursday’s rainy weather to shoot a 5-under 67 and take a share of the lead in the first round of the Italian Open.

The start of the tournament was delayed by two hours to repair damage to the waterlogged course after persistent rain over the past week, and Lawrie was among the late finishers before play was halted because of darkness with 30 golfers still to complete their rounds.

The Scot was tied atop the leaderboard with Marcus Fraser or Australia and English duo Graeme Storm and Robert Rock – who all played in calmer morning conditions.

Lawrie began his round late in the afternoon just as heavy rain set in for about an hour but still managed six birdies to go with a lone bogey on the 17th.

“It did get fairly messy out there while I was playing, compared to the conditions in the morning,” Lawrie said. “So to shoot 5-under was a really good score. I struggled a bit from tee to green but putted magnificently. I holed three putts of over 30 foot from the fringe of greens.”

David Drysdale, another Scot who also played late in the day, shot a 68 to sit one shot off the lead in a four-man group that included David Horsey of England, Stephen Dodd of Wales and Hennie Otto of South Africa.

Storm had planned to skip the tournament because of his daughter’s birthday this week, but changed his mind after missing the cut last week in Spain.

“I shot 67 so hopefully she will forgive me,” the Englishman said.

Besides missing the cut last week, Storm has failed to play the final weekend four other times in 2010.

“It is my worst start to a season since I came out on tour. But I have had a shoulder injury troubling me for four months and I am just trying to get some form ahead of the big tournaments this summer,” Storm said. “And I have been having some flu symptoms this week so to shoot 5 under was a great score.”

The biggest gallery of the day was following 17-year-old Matteo Manassero (70), a young Italian making his professional debut.

“I enjoyed it,” said Manassero, the low amateur at last month’s Masters. “I played good golf and I stayed patient.”

Scottish veteran Colin Montgomerie (76) played alongside Manassero.

“I was very impressed by Matteo,” Montgomerie said. “Very impressed that he could shoot that at 17 years old.”

Also, little known Martin Ureta of Chile made five birdies in six holes early in the round but dropped two shots at the end to finish at 3 under.