Roe finds form after changing to old putter

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Mark Roe returned to the putter which almost brought him victory in the Open to claim a share of the first-round lead in the Italian Open here yesterday.

Roe dug the club out of his garage and carded six birdies and a closing eagle for an eight under par 64 to join France's Gregory Havret at the top of the leaderboard at Castello di Tolcinasco. New Zealand's Michael Campbell and Sweden's Christopher Hanell were a shot behind after rounds of 65, with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Argentina's Cesar Monasterio another stroke adrift.

The favourite before the tournament, Ian Poulter, threw a spectator's mobile phone into a bin on his way to an opening 68, while Jose Maria Olazabal's struggles continued with a 74.

"I've been playing absolutely beautifully all year, played five events and made five cuts and just not been holing any putts," said Roe, whose last Tour victory came a decade ago. "But the second I got here I liked the greens, there was no grain and I could see the lines again, and I changed my putter and dug out the old one from the garage.

"I've had it for six or seven years and it's astonishing it has survived that long. It's been discarded in a few places but I have always gone back for it. I've ran the other one over with the car to make sure it can never come back. It's the same one I used at Sandwich so maybe it feels guilty, it feels like it owes me something."

Roe was famously disqualified from the Open last year after failing to exchange scorecards with playing partner Jesper Parnevik before firing a third round 67 which would have left him just two shots off the lead and playing with Tiger Woods in the final round.

Campbell bounced back from his US Masters disappointment to card seven birdies in his 65 after putting a new pre-shot routine into practice.

ITALIAN OPEN (Milan) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 64 M Roe, G Havret (Fr); 65 M Campbell (NZ), C Hanell (Swe); 66 G McDowell, C Monasterio (Arg), M Foster, D Lynn; 67 M Maritz (SA), J Haeggman (Swe), T Levet (Fr), M Erlandsson (Swe), M Siem (Ger), A Wall, G Evans, A Cabrera (Arg), J Spence; 68 A McLean, D McGrane, S Gallacher, I Poulter, M Florioli (It).