Robin Dawson fired a rock-solid one-under par 71 to get his Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil bid off to a sound footing at Terre dei Consoli Golf Club.
It’s proved a difficult transition for the Tramore professional since turning pro last year but one obstacle he’s overcome this week is posting a nice number on day one, something Dawson has struggled with so far this season.
The 23-year old carded four birdies in an encouraging effort and with a foundation set for the next three days, he’ll be hoping to take advantage and ascend from his current position of tied 34th on the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, Cormac Sharvin, who’s been the model of consistency so far this season, stumbled out of the blocks, taking 38 shots to the turn before slipping to four-over par through 12 holes with another bogey.
However, the Ardglass professional, who’s been riding a crest of a wave of late, refused to give in and got two shots back with birdies at 13 and 15 to keep his tournament hopes alive at two-over par.
Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee bogeyed his final two holes in a frustrating finish that saw the 28-year old join Sharvin at two-over. The pair currently share in a big tie for 92nd and will need something in the red tomorrow to ensure they advance to the weekend.
Northern Ireland’s Daniel Peacock signed for a three-over par 75 while the news was no better for Gary Hurley whose struggles continued with a five-over par 77 on day one; the West Waterford professional up against it to advance to the weekend.
At the top, Bryce Easton and Carlos Pigem share the lead at Terre dei Consoli Golf Club.
The pair carded rounds of 66, six-under par, in soaring temperatures to hold a one stroke advantage over four players after the first round in Italy.
Easton, who finished tied third at the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg at the start of the season, began strongly with a birdie on the tenth hole – his first – before making two further gains in a bogey free front nine.
His only blemish came at the par four first, but the South African bounced back with consecutive birdies on the third and fourth, before completing his opening round in style, picking up two more strokes on his final two holes to sign for a round of 66.
Pigem also recorded a bogey free front nine, as he started from the first hole and made successive gains on the fourth and fifth holes as well as the eighth and ninth to make the turn at four under par.
Like Easton, the Spaniard only made one bogey, coming at the par four 11th but birdies at 13, 14 and a final one of the round at the 17th saw the 28-year-old join Easton at the top.
With the temperature rising in the afternoon, Easton was delighted to finish with consecutive birdies to move to the top of the leaderboard.
“I was pretty happy with those two birdies,” he said. “I told myself to finish strong and that started with a good tee shot on eight which avoided the trap and left me with a straightforward chip, which I hit to within a couple of feet which was nice.
“On 18 – the ninth hole – it was a pretty accessible flag, even into the wind. You know you are going to lay up and it doesn’t matter where you lay it up to, because you know you’ve got to throw it long and right and let it feedback. I was happy to make a 12 foot birdie from there. I was happy that I gave myself a chance to get to six under par to finish the day with a really good score.”
Pigem, who finished seventh at the Andalucía – Costa del Sol Match Play 9 last week, was pleased to continue his good form and share the lead at the end of day one.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I started really well and was hitting the ball really well, especially my second shots.
“I shot four under on the front nine and then the wind picked up on the back nine, which made it tricky. I made back-to-back birdies on the par fives and then made a good birdie on 17 for a nice round of 66.”
A stroke behind the duo on five under par is a quartet of players, including Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, Nicolai Højgaard of Denmark, Australian Jordan Zunic, and Lorenzo Scalise, who leads the Italian charge after his bogey free round of 67.
The second round of the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil gets under way at 7:00am local time, with Easton teeing off at 7:40am and Pigem at 8:20am.
Full Scoring HERE