Cape Town - Robert Rock, Laurie Canter and Richard Sterne made the most of the the conditions at Gardagolf Country Club to share the lead after the first round of the Italian Open.
Canter and Rock capitalised with rounds of 63 to set the target at eight under and after an hour and 19 minutes was lost in the afternoon due to storms in the area, it looked like none of the afternoon starters could catch them.
Enter six-time European Tour winner Sterne, who carded a total of ten birdies - including three on the bounce at the end of his round - to make it a three-way tie at the top.
There was then a group of nine players with 22 European Tour wins between then at six under, made up of Englishmen Ross Fisher, Charlie Ford, Matt Wallace and Danny Willett, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, American Daniel Im, Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, Belgian Thomas Pieters and South African Erik van Rooyen.
Canter is looking for his first European Tour title after coming through the Qualifying School the last three seasons, while Rock is seeking win number three at the event where he claimed his maiden victory seven years ago.
Home favourite Francesco Molinari - a two-time winner of this event – is three shots off the pace at five under in the chasing pack as he searches for back-to-back Rolex Series titles.
63 L Canter (Eng); R Sterne (RSA); R Rock (Eng);
65 M Wallace (Eng); D Willett (Eng); C Ford (Eng); E Van Rooyen (RSA); T Pieters (Bel); R Fisher (Eng); R Cabrera Bello (Esp); T Olesen (Den);
66 W Ormsby (Aus); M Manassero (Ita); D Im (USA); J Donaldson (Wal); C Shinkwin (Eng); L Westwood (Eng); M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra); G McDowell (Nir); D Fichardt (RSA); M Fitzpatrick (Eng); F Molinari (Ita); L Slattery (Eng);
67 C Wood (Eng); R Evans (Eng); R Ramsay (Sco); D Frittelli (RSA); D Brooks (Eng); J Smith (Eng); J Kruyswijk (RSA); A Sullivan (Eng); I Poulter (Eng); H Tanihara (Jpn); E Pepperell (Eng); A Romero (Arg); M Schwab (Aut); A Rai (Eng); J Morrison (Eng); A Chesters (Eng); J Scrivener (Aus);
68 T Fleetwood (Eng); J Campillo (Esp); G Havret (Fra); J Lagergren (Swe); H Li (Chn); M Jiménez (Esp); C Syme (Sco); O Fisher (Eng); L Gagli (Ita); L Bjerregaard (Den); M Kaymer (Ger); A Levy (Fra); A Otaegui (Esp); J Dantorp (Swe); A Saddier (Fra); P Hanson (Swe); J Geary (Nzl); S Hend (Aus); M Warren (Sco); D Lipsky (USA); D Drysdale (Sco); B Dredge (Wal); P Waring (Eng); J Wang (Kor); M Korhonen (Fin); R Jacquelin (Fra);
69 A Johnston (Eng); C Sordet (Fra); N Bertasio (Ita); A Connelly (Can); D Howell (Eng); S Jamieson (Sco); S Gallacher (Sco); S Horsfield (Eng); T Detry (Bel); N Elvira (Esp); J Winther (Den); L Cianchetti (Ita); F Zanotti (Par); P Khongwatmai (Tha); B Stone (RSA); P Larrazábal (Esp); J Norris (Aus); R Fox (Nzl); T Aiken (RSA); A Pavan (Ita); T Immelman (RSA); P Dunne (Irl); P Widegren (Swe); M Kinhult (Swe);
70 S Brazel (Aus); R Karlsson (Swe); G Fernandez - Castaño (Esp); F Aguilar (Chi); A Wu (Chn); G Bourdy (Fra); P Oriol (Esp); S Lee (Kor); D Burmester (RSA); A Noren (Swe); G Coetzee (RSA); R McGowan (Eng); J Guerrier (Fra); L Jensen (Den); S Kjeldsen (Den); A Bland (Aus); B Rumford (Aus); R Bland (Eng); H Porteous (RSA); B Hebert (Fra); M Ilonen (Fin);
71 M Southgate (Eng); R Wattel (Fra); M Kieffer (Ger); F Bergamaschi (Ita); S Gros (Fra); S Heisele (Ger); J Choi (Kor); S Fernandez (Esp); M Foster (Eng); F Laporta (Ita); R Cho (Kor); C Hanson (Eng); G Green (Mas); A Quiros (Esp); T Jaidee (Tha); S Brown (Eng); P Harrington (Irl); A Björk (Swe); C Paisley (Eng);
72 C Koepka (USA); M Siem (Ger); A Dodt (Aus); D Horsey (Eng); R Gouveia (Por); G Migliozzi (Ita); T Hatton (Eng); C Pigem (Esp); J Heath (Eng); M Pavon (Fra);
73 P Angles (Esp); R Paratore (Ita); B Neil (Sco); S Chawrasia (Ind); C Bezuidenhout (RSA);
74 N Colsaerts (Bel); J Vecchi Fossa (Ita); N Geyger (Chi); E Di Nitto (Ita); T Pulkkanen (Fin); M Fraser (Aus);
75 F Maccario (Ita); M Baldwin (Eng);
76 E Molinari (Ita);
77 O Farr (Wal);
78 Z Lombard (RSA)