Golf: Best of Eales not enough for lead: Italian Open

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The Independent Online
PAUL EALES achieved the lowest round of his European tour career but it was still not good enough for a first-round lead in the Italian Open in Rome yesterday. Eales's seven-under-par 65 beat his previous best by three strokes, yet it left him one behind the German, Alexander Cejka.

Cejka, who was born in Czechoslovakia, would have led by two shots but for a bogey on the final hole.

Eales was also close to shooting a 63. His 50-yard pitch to the long 12th went into the hole, jumped out again and he missed the putt from six feet.

'I couldn't see it go in, but I heard the rattle and somebody confirmed what had happened,' said Eales, the winner of the Extremadura Open in February. But, after that unlucky break, he had a hat-trick of birdies and three more on the outward half.

Cejka, 23, has made six trips to the Tour qualifying school since turning professional in 1988, but earlier this month had his best finish on the circuit - a tie for 10th place in the Benson and Hedges International. 'I was going to take this week off because I've been playing a lot,' he said. 'But I decided on Sunday that I would play.'

He was three under after four holes and had six more birdies in eight holes from the eighth, but hit a six-iron into sand at the 460-yard 18th and failed to get up and down.