41-year-old Robert Rock co-leads after opening 63 at Italian Open

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41-year-old Robert Rock co-leads after opening 63 at Italian Open

Euro Tour

41-year-old Robert Rock co-leads after opening 63 at Italian Open

Robert Rock is living proof that hard work pays off for those not blessed with abundant talent.

The 41-year-old Englishman shares the lead with fellow Englishman Laurie Canter in the $7 million Italian Open.

Rock fired an opening 8-under-par 63 that included seven birdies, an eagle and just one dropped shot around Gardagolf Country Club in Brescia, Italy. Canter had six birdies an eagle to join him. 

Rock began his round with a par before a bogey at the second hole. He made just three pars in his next nine holes. 

“I played nine holes in 26 shots, which I haven’t done before,” Rock said. “Anytime you do something like that you feel a bit lucky, and I managed to progress on from that and make a couple of more birdies.”

Not many thought Rock would be making a career on the European Tour back in the late 1990s when he was working as a teaching professional at Swingers Golf Centre in Lichfield, England. Few club pros go from teaching handicappers how to fix their slice to competing with Europe’s elite.

Rock hasn’t just made a decent career on the European Tour, he’s a two-time winner. The Englishman earned his first win in the 2011 Italian Open. 

“You remember your first win of course more than anything,” Rock said. “For me it took so long time to get my first win, so it was special. Your name’s on the trophy. It’s just a reminder you’ve done something down the line.”

His next win was anything but ordinary. 

The 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship was notable for Tiger Woods’ first appearance in the Emirate. Rory McIlroy was in the field too, along with other notables such as Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell. Rocky, as he’s known on Tour, didn’t just top them all, he played alongside Woods in the final round and beat him.

The Englishman is looking for his first win since Abu Dhabi. Canter is just looking for permanency on the European Tour. He’s had Tour status the last three seasons courtesy of good Qualifying School finishes. He lost that status each of the last three years. A good finish this weekend will break that run.

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