Italian Open: Matt Fitzpatrick tops after opening day as Rory McIlroy shines on the Ryder Cup Arena | golf news

Fitzpatrick set the pace at the Ryder Cup Stadium next year, with McIlroy back again looking to further his edge in the DP World Tour rankings; Watch the DS Italian Cars Open Friday from 7.30am on Sky Sports Golf

Last update: 09/15/22 7:28 PM

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Highlights Rory McIlroy’s opening round at the Italian Open, where the Northern Irishman scored four goals under 67 at Marco Simone GC.

Highlights Rory McIlroy’s opening round at the Italian Open, where the Northern Irishman scored four goals under 67 at Marco Simone GC.

Matt Fitzpatrick topped the leaderboard after the weather’s first day of the DS Italian Open, with Rory McIlroy rebounding from a slow start to impress as well.

Fitzpatrick was under five on his tour with three holes remaining in Marco Simon GC when play was suspended due to poor lighting, after lightning delayed the start of the opening round earlier in the day.

The US Open champion took the shots in the second and seventh stages, before continuing his stealth-free start to the week and moving forward with three straight birds of the eleventh.

Fitzpatrick will return at 7.30am local time (6.30am GMT) on Friday to complete his opening round, with the Englishman resuming a one-shot advantage over a group of eight players – including McIlroy – in four under.

“It was really annoying,” Fitzpatrick said after not being able to finish the match. “I was trying to get us forward as fast as possible, but the rest of the field is obviously playing a little bit slower. Especially when you have a good run, you just want to keep going, but that’s what it is.”

Matt Fitzpatrick tops the leaderboard in Rome

Matt Fitzpatrick tops the leaderboard in Rome

Joost Luiten and Alvaro Quiros are five- and two-hole outsiders respectively, while McIlroy lived up to his pre-tournament billing by making an eagle and three birdies on his last seven holes to make a four-under 67.

McIlroy nearly hid from the rough on the 10th – his opening pit on the day – only to cheat the next, struggling to make a triple on the 12th and eliminate a close-range flyer on the 16th by missing a five-footer to save par on 17.

Rory McIlroy says his eagle on the third hole started his opening round at the Italian Open.

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Rory McIlroy says his eagle on the third hole started his opening round at the Italian Open.

Rory McIlroy says his eagle on the third hole started his opening round at the Italian Open.

Last week’s BMW PGA runner-up hid 20 feet to avoid another bogey on the 18th before an eagle from the third lane sparked an attack on the leaderboard, with a 12-foot jumper in fifth followed by a back-to-back gains of the eighth.

When asked what he was thinking midway through his tour, McIlroy said Sky Sports: “Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed up so late last night! I felt like I was still half asleep playing that ninth intro.

Rory McIlroy punched the second Eagle on the third hole in the first round of the Italian Open at next year's Ryder Cup stadium, Marco Simone GC.

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Rory McIlroy punched the second Eagle on the third hole in the first round of the Italian Open at next year’s Ryder Cup stadium, Marco Simone GC.

Rory McIlroy punched the second Eagle on the third hole in the first round of the Italian Open at next year’s Ryder Cup stadium, Marco Simone GC.

“This eagle obviously lit something up and kind of kicked off my round a bit, and played some really good golf my way in. I can’t complain, the top nine played really well today and the left nine not so good. I just need to arrange some things in the next few days.

Eddie Pepperell, Scott Jamison, Antoine Rosner, Adri Arnos and Gavin Green are all in four under, while defending champion Nikolai Hoggard sits two points off the lead and captain Luke Donald behind with three holes remaining by four holes of his run.

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September 16, 2022, 8:30 a.m.

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“It was tough but I was able to play some hard golf, really good golf on the first nine holes, and then lost some rhythm on the back nine from the tee and put me in some tough situations off the tee,” Hojgaard said. “But most of all, it’s a good start to the defense.”

Victor Hovland, who plays alongside Fitzpatrick and among the other players who have made the trip to Rome ahead of hosting next year’s Ryder Cup, is one under 15 holes and among the players returning for the final on Friday.

Watch the DS Italian Open all week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday with featured groups from 7.30am on Sky Sports Golf, before full coverage from 12:30pm.