Thursday, September 15, 2016

 Italians hog the limelight in Monza

Francesco Molinari fired a bogey-free 65 as the home contingent enjoyed an excellent first day of the Italian Open at Golf Club Milano.
Torrential rain and the threat of lightning meant that four hours and 55 minutes of play were lost in Monza but that did not appear to affect the locals, with five Italians in the top 25 in the clubhouse.
The first round will not be completed until Friday morning.
Molinari - the 2006 champion - led the way at six under and he was two shots ahead of 21 year old amateur Federico Zucchetti, who was playing in just his second European Tour event.
Nicolo Ravano, 31, was then a further shot back, just a shot clear of two more amateurs in Michele Cea and Lorenzo Scalise, both 21.
At 33 and with three European Tour titles under his belt, Molinari is very much the elder statesman of the group and he made birdies on the 12th, 14th, 16th, first, second and third to sit just a shot behind overnight leader Rikard Karlberg.
"I'm very happy, I played very well in the Pro-Am yesterday and just carried that form into today," he said. "The goal at the beginning of the week was to put four good rounds together, so I'm one quarter of the way there.
"It's difficult to treat it like any other week. There is a lot more going on away from the course, so it's harder to stay focused but I'm much more used to it by now.
"It's always hard when you're stopping and starting, it's tiring mentally and physically and I'm now feeling exhausted. But I will have lots of rest tomorrow because we won't be teeing off until late in the afternoon, so hopefully I can get my energy levels back up and play just as well again."
Zucchetti showed great fighting spirit in his round, recovering from bogeys on the fourth and fifth with six birdies in a 67.

"I'm obviously very happy, especially as I was two over par after five holes," he said. "Maybe I was a little nervous, or maybe the weather delay affected my focus, but I settled down after the birdies on six and seven and after that I played really well.
"I didn't really have any [expectations] to be honest. But I've played the course many times, so I know it very well which obviously helps me a lot. It's not a long course, you just need to hit it in the right spots and for the most part I did that today."
Ravano had six birdies and two bogeys in his round, with Scalise and Cea also recording a pair of blemishes each.
Andrea Pavan was another Italian going well with a birdie and an eagle in his opening six holes.
Scots who have completed their first rounds:
par 71
67 Jamie McLeary (T5)
71 Stephen Gallacher (T76)
72 Paul Lawrie, David Drysdale (T105)





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