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Soderberg, Hoey lead in Sicily after flirting with 59

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Sebastian Soderberg of Sweden made the early running with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth before an eagle on the ninth helped him turn in 30

AGRIGENTO (ITALY) (AFP) - 

Sebastian Soderberg and Michael Hoey shared the first round lead at the Sicily Open on Thursday after both men flirted with the magical score of 59.

In the end, they carded matching 61s to be 10 under par at the Verdura Golf Club on a bright, sunny day made for low scoring.

Sweden's Soderberg, playing just his 15th European Tour event, made the early running with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth before an eagle on the ninth helped him turn in 30.

A birdie-birdie start on the back nine then brought a rare 59 into focus before a run of five pars put paid to those hopes.

The 26-year-old rolled a birdie down the hill at the 17th before an eight-footer on the last.

"That 59 was all I thought about walking down the par five 12th," the Swede told www.europeantour.com

"It kind of helped me to keep going, I didn't feel like it stopped me. I definitely had a couple of putts the last seven holes that could have run in. Overall, great round."

Northern Irishman Hoey, a five-time European Tour winner, birdied his opener on the 11th and added further gains on the 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, first, second and third.

The 38-yer-old then made four pars in a row but a stunning approach to the eighth produced a birdie and when he found the fringe on the par five ninth with his second, the record was still a possibility.

He had to settle for a birdie, however, after leaving his putt short and made a par on his last.

"I left it in the jaws, both putts, but I was nervous," he said.

South Africa's Zander Lombard is a shot off the pace while European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is one of six players on six-under 65.

© 2017 AFP