Molinari enjoys home comforts
Francesco Molinari certainly seemed to feel right at home in Turin, firing a round of 66 to sit in a share of the lead after the opening day of the Italian Open.
At the course where he first began to play the game at the age of eight, Italian Molinari carded a flawless six-under-par score at Circolo Golf Torino to share top spot with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
A member of Europe's Ryder Cup teams in 2010 and 2012, the 31-year-old offered a timely reminder of his abilities to captain Paul McGinley ahead of the announcement of three wild card picks to complete the line-up for Gleneagles.
"I had a chat with Paul when he got here and I think the good thing is that he knows what I can bring to the team because he has seen me as vice-captain on the last two teams," said Molinari.
"But it's up to me to prove that I really want it and am playing well enough.I think anything less than a win would not be enough so I have to aim for that."
Stephen Gallacher - the only player in the field who controls his own destiny when it comes to making the Ryder Cup - mixed four birdies and four bogeys to sit six shots off the pace set by the leading duo.
"I'm a bit disappointed because I threw away a couple of shots midway through my round, but it's okay for the first day and I am only one good score away from the top of the leaderboard," said Gallacher, who lives just 35 miles from Gleneagles.
"I know I have to finish first or second, that's not going to change, so I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Once you get out on the course you just try to birdie every hole. That's the easy part. It's when you finish you think about the Ryder Cup."
Molinari birdied his first two holes before adding four more after the turn, while Wiesberger's own score of 66 was also blemish free.
The pair are one clear of a five-man group of American John Hahn, Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin, Scotland's Richie Ramsay, England's Richard Bland and South African Hennie Otto.
Hahn was in the second group out at 7:40am and began the day bemoaning another early start, but ended it delighted with a 67 featuring six birdies and one bogey.
"I've just had so many early starts recently," Hahn said. "I was up before 5am today but the one advantage is that you're always going to have smooth greens and it was nice to take advantage."
Italian amateur Edoardo Lipparelli, 17, is one of seven players on four under, along with compatriot Francesco Laporta and South African Darren Fichardt. They are joined by Frenchman Gary Stal, Felipe Aguilar of Chile and Denmark's Morten Orum Madsen.