Gareth Maybin (pictured below) made a positive start to the Italian Open in Torino, carding a five under par 67 to trail the first round leaders by a shot.
The Ballyclare golfer, still trying to nail down his tour card for next season, is in a group of six players tied for third behind Ryder Cup hopeful Francesco Molinari and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
“I kept it in play off the tee which is really the secret around here,” said the 33-year-old.
“If I continue to do that, there is no reason why I can’t keep climbing the leader board.
“This kind of course is right up my street. You have to keep it in play, it is not overly long, and you have to shape the ball pretty well.”
Joint leader Molinari is hoping to give European Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley, a selection headache by winning on home soil. The Italian certainly his home advantage count, as he smoothly compiled a six under 66.
“It’s great to play in front of your home crowd and so many family and friends here at my home club. There is expectation and pressure but I enjoy it,” he said.
“I have been in contact with Paul throughout the season as I am sure he has done with all of the guys and we had a chat at the start of the week. He was basically just wishing me luck.
“I think the good thing for me is that he knows what I can bring to the team because he has seen me in the last two Ryder Cups when he was a vice captain. But it is really up to me to prove how much I want to be on the team and I am playing well enough to get to Gleneagles.”
Darren Clarke opened with a level par 72.