Italian Open 2017: Six-Way Tie for Lead After Thursday Action

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2017

MONZA, ITALY - OCTOBER 12:  Jon Rahm on Spain plays of the tee on Day One of the Italian Open at Golf Club Milano - Parco Reale di Monza on October 12, 2017 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The 2017 Italian Open got off to an explosive start on Thursday as no fewer than six players finished the day tied for first. 

Defending champion Francesco Molinari, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson, Alexander Bjork, Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell all finished the day seven-under, setting up a tight race at the top of the leaderboard.

For a look at the full leaderboard, visit the European Tour's official website.

   

Recap

The Golf Club Milano did not make things especially difficult on the pack on Thursday, particularly during the morning session. At one point in the day, over 65 percent of the field was under par, a remarkably high number. And per the European Tour's official Twitter account, it opened the door to a big leading group:

One of the men to lock in a score of seven-under was defending champion Molinari, who put his local knowledge to good use. The Italian dropped two shots on the front-nine but impressed with his short game throughout the day.

A run of four birdies on five holes on the back-nine proved key, along with a strong finish to the front-nine. Here's a look at his highlights:

Donaldson also grabbed a share of the lead, dropping a single shot on the back-nine but closing things out with two birdies in a row. Pepperell's eagle on the 14th made his round, and both Bjork and Aphibarnrat stood out for their clean rounds, not making a single mistake. A late surge from Wallace saw him join the group.

Behind those six, several players made pushes late in the day. Bernd Wiesberger struggled at times and carded a round of two-under, but he flashed a few moments of brilliance and will be one to keep an eye on moving forward.

He was already looking forward to the days ahead after his round:

Jon Rahm's raw power is well-suited to the course in Italy, and he too impressed on Thursday as one of the late starters. The Spaniard finished the day four-under, positioning himself well for Friday's round.

Sergio Garcia shot one better than Rahm, and Tommy Fleetwood struggled, adding some suspense to the Race to Dubai with an opening round of 71 par.

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