Gary Hurley, Jonathan Yates and Paul McBride made solid starts to the Roma Alps Open but they all have ground to make up after their opening rounds on the Alps Tour.
The Irish trio each recorded two-under 70s on their first day at Golf Club Parco de’ Medici to hold a share of 36th, but they are already seven shots adrift of Spanish leader Alex Esmatges.
Yates will perhaps be the most frustrated as a late double-bogey at the par-four 14th ended what had been a bogey-free day up to that point, with four birdies around that leading to his 70.
McBride had the most birdies of the trio with six, but also the most bogeys with four, while Hurley racked up four birdies and two bogeys to join them on two-under.
Esmatges set the early pace with an eagle, eight birdies and a bogey in a fine nine-under 63 in Italy that gives him a one-shot lead over Italian duo Gregorio de Leo and amateur Julien Paltrinieri.
De Leo is chasing his third win of the season which would give him automatic promotion to the Challenge Tour and he started positively with eight birdies in a bogey-free 64, a stats line which was matched by his amateur counterpart Paltrinieri.
Michael Young has even more work to do than his fellow countrymen as he signed for two birdies and two bogeys in a level-par 72 that has him in a tie for 68th and battling to make the cut let alone challenge for the title.