Turin, Italy – Britain’s Robert Rock credited improved putting after reading tips from a coaching manual as he ended a nine-year wait and 209 events for a European Tour victory by winning the Italian Open on Sunday.
A closing five-under 67 packed with seven birdies around the turn, for a 21-under 267 total, left the 34-year-old Englishman a stroke better than Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and fellow Briton Gary Boyd.
“My putting had been letting me down so when I read the book I decided to use some of the tips in it,” said former teaching-pro Rock, who flirted with a maiden victory last year before losing a playoff to amateur Shane Lowry in the Irish Open.
“And it’s helped me considerably.”
By the time Rock began his round he had been overtaken by the charging Olesen who went out in just 29, six-under-par.
The Dane set the target of 20-under by ramming home a 30 foot birdie putt on the last for a round of 62 and Rock slipped four shots behind him with a bogey on the third in a nervy start.
But Rock then got to grips with his task and a sixth birdie in seven holes from the fifth finally put him back on top of the leaderboard on his own at the 11th.
He then dropped his second shot of the day but quickly repaired that damage with a birdie at 13.
Rock’s 15-footer to save par on the 17th after driving deep in trees proved to be just as important as any of his birdies.
“That putt on the 17th took a huge amount of pressure off,” he said.
Boyd’s 66 also took him to 20-under but a solid par on the 18th ensured Rock broke his tour duck.
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero found himself too much to do to achieve his dream of winning his home open 13 months after turning professional at the tournament. Manassero’s 68 left him five shots adrift of Rock.
Like the winner, 18-year-old Manassero makes his U.S. Open debut next week.