Dodd tied for Sicilian Open lead

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Welshman Stephen Dodd shares the lead with Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara after the first round of the Sicilian Open.

Welshman Stephen Dodd shares the lead with Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara after the first round of the Sicilian Open.

Both golfers carded six-under 65s on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over duo Raphael Jacquelin and Anthony Wall. Four players – Aussies Daniel Gaunt and Matthew Zions, and Englishmen Chris Wood and Steve Webster – lie a further shot back.

This is the European Tour’s first stop in Sicily and at the Donnafugata Golf Resort, and it was Dodd and Lara who were quickest to get to grips with the foreign conditions.

“I did a lot of good things out there today,” Dodd told www.europeantour.com

“I kept in play most of the time, hit some good iron shots and I putted well which is always a key for any good round.”

Dodd made six birdies on the day, and a superb eagle at the par-five 16th, though two bogeys curtailed his progress somewhat. The Welshman is seeking his first European Tour victory since 2006’s European Open.

Back in that tournament it was Lara who finished second, and once again the two seem to be going head to head. The Spaniard got off to a horror start with a double bogey on the fourth hole, but followed it up with 8 birdies and only one further dropped shot.

“It was a strange one,” he said of his mishap on the fourth. “I basically got a flier from the rough and the ball just went so far – straight behind a tree and I couldn’t do anything from there.”

Lara is in search of his third European Tour title, with his last having come at the Austrian Open in 2010.

Daniel Gaunt, a graduate from the Challenge Tour, grabbed the early morning lead, birdying his opening three holes and completing his front nine at 30. Three bogeys on the back nine saw him relinquish the lead, eventually signing for a 67.

“Got off to a good start, drove the ball ok for the first few holes,” said Gaunt. “I’ve been hitting it really good in previous tournaments not holing putts and not getting a score so I’m pretty happy with the way I putted.”

Further down the leaderboard it was a good day for Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who shot a 2-under 69 to move into to the top 20.

Montgomerie praised the course and venue prior to the first round.

“The course is very good – a very good layout and we have a discovered a great new destination for The European Tour here in Sicily,” he said.

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