Tom McKibbin is the best of the Irish after a one-under 70 left him seven shots behind Frenchman Matthieu Pavon at the DS Automobiles Italian Open.
McKibbin birdied two of his last three holes to end the day in the red after he recovered from a difficult start.
The 20-year-old bogeyed two of his first four holes before birdies at the ninth and thirteenth got him back to level-par.
The Holywood native dropped a third shot of the day on 15 but bounced back with a birdie on 16 and a 12-foot birdie on 18 to lie in a share of 28th place.
Kinsale’s John Murphy has a chance to make his first cut of his rookie DP World Tour season after a level-par 71 while Gary Hurley has work to do from three-over-par.
Pavon will take a two shot lead into the second round at the Ryder Cup venue Marco Simone after a blistering eight-under 63 which was his lowest DP World Tour round.
Pavon made the turn in 29 after six birdies and continued in that vein with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12. The 30-year-old gave a shot back on 17 but like McKibbin, he bounced back with a closing birdie.
Pavon leads from Germany’s Max Kieffer.
“All in all it was just great playing. Nothing bad to say about today. I was really, really solid off the tee, probably only missed two fairways today – and every time it was by a few inches.
“The putting was amazing also. I dropped a lot of putts. I think I probably made nine putts on my front nine, which is quite funny. Everything was just excellent today.
“I was not really sure about a low, low score like this. I knew I could do great, but that great (63), I’m a bit surprised.”
Adrian Meronk of Poland leads the Ryder Cup hopefuls charge after a three-under 68 alongside England’s Jordan Smith and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui.
France’s Victor Perez held the early lead on four-under but a difficult back nine saw him settle for a two-under 69 to lie alongside home favourite Guido Migliozzi.
Danish twins Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard are level-par and two-over respectively while European captain Luke Donald is back on three-over-par.
Defending champion Robert MacIntyre struggled to a two-over 73.
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