Late dropped shots mean McKibbin has work to do to see the weekend in Italy

Mark McGowan

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Tom McKibbin will likely need a round in the 60s on Friday if he’s to see weekend action at the Italian Open at Adriatic Golf Club Cervia after a flurry of late bogeys saw him finish day one on level par.

Hoping to be among the leaders on Sunday and contend for both the championship and one of two Open Championship exemptions doled out to the two highest finishers not already qualified, three birdies to one bogey on his outward nine – the back nine – left the Holywood man nicely placed at two-under making the turn.

But a run of three bogeys in four holes, interspersed with a birdie, saw the 21-year-old slip back to level par after 15 holes. Another birdie on eight made it likely that he’d get round in red figures, but a four-foot miss on the ninth dropped him back to level-par once more and he ends the day in a tie for 73rd.

Home favourite Andrea Pavan shares the first round lead after carding a seven under par 64.

The two-time DP World Tour winner is playing in his home national open for the 13th time, and arrived at Adriatic Golf Club Cervia in good form having finished fourth at last week’s KLM Open.

Pavan regained his DP World Tour card for 2024 after finishing eighth on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca last season, and is going in search of his first win on Tour since the 2019 BMW International Open.

The Italian got off to a hot start with four birdies on his front nine and made three further gains coming home in a bogey-free opening round. He is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Denmark’s Sebastian Friedrichsen and Gunner Wiebe of the United States. Wiebe was also bogey free, while Friedrichsen carded eight birdies and a bogey in his seven under par round.

“You try (and carry momentum),” said Pavan. “In this game, it’s tough but you just try your best and sometimes you’re playing well and can carry on. Sometimes you get the most out of your game, but every week is different.

“I haven’t played here in a long time, so I felt like I didn’t really know the course. But today was good, I played very well. I was in position and hit it close. The course isn’t very long but you still have to play well.”

Malaysia’s Gavin Green shares fourth on six under par with Marcus Kinhult, who was runner-up at the KLM Open, while the Italian Francesco Laporta shares fifth on five under with the Spanish pair of Adri Arnaus and Adrian Otaegui, Aaron Cockerill of Canada, American Sean Crocker and Frenchman Ugo Coussaud.


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