Moli­nari gets share of lead

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS -

De­fend­ing cham­pion and home fa­vorite Francesco Moli­nari was among six play­ers who shared a one- stroke lead af­ter the open­ing round of the Ital­ian Open.

Jamie Don­ald­son, Ki­radech Aphibarn­rat, Ed­die Pep­perell, Matt Wal­lace and Alexan­der Bjork also shot 7-un­der 64s Thurs­day at the Golf Club Mi­lano, next to Monza’s For­mula One cir­cuit.

Ge­orge Coet­zee and An Byeong-hun were both one stroke back in the Rolex Se­ries event, which has an in­creased purse of $7 mil­lion this year as part of the buildup to the 2022 Ry­der Cup out­side Rome.

Mas­ters cham­pion Ser­gio Gar­cia stood in a group two strokes be­hind the lead­ers, while play­ing part­ner and fel­low Spa­niard Jon Rahm was among those three shots be­hind.

Tommy Fleet­wood, who leads the Race to Dubai ahead of Gar­cia and Rahm, had some ground to make up af­ter a par 71.

Moli­nari chipped in for birdie at No. 18, his ninth hole of the day, and fin­ished with nine birdies and two bo­geys.

“I started pretty much where I left off last year,” Moli­nari said.

With no ticket fees, Moli­nari had a lot of fan sup­port.

“It’s great to see the crowds,” he said. “I think there’s a nice buzz around the place and I’m happy and proud to be part of it.”

Thai­land’s Aphibarn­rat led for most of the morn­ing af­ter sink­ing four birdies in his first eight holes be­fore sav­ing par at the 18th.

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