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Andrea Pavan defies lack of local knowledge to share first-round lead

Andrea Pavan defies lack of local knowledge to share first-round lead

Andrea Pavan insisted local knowledge did not play a part as the home favourite shared the first-round lead at the 2024 Italian Open presented by Regione Emilia-Romagna.

Pavan’s bogey-free 64 left him level on seven under par with Denmark’s Sebastian Friedrichsen and American Gunner Wiebe.

Malaysia’s Gavin Green made four birdies in the last six holes to sit one shot back. He was joined on six under late in the day by Marcus Kinhult after the Swede birdied the last.

While Pavan had the backing of the Italian crowd at Adriatic Golf Club Cervia, he said: “The last time I played here was 20 years ago, so I wouldn’t consider having any knowledge around the place.”

Starting on the back nine, Pavan holed from 10 feet for birdie at the 13th hole and pitched from the fringe of the 15th green to an inch for another.

Further gains at the 16th and 18th took him out in 32 and when he picked up shots back to back at the third and fourth he was six under.

He closed out a bogey-free round with a final birdie from seven feet at the ninth and said: “Today was good, I played very well. I was in position and hit it close.

“The course isn’t very long but you still have to play well. Very small greens, especially on the back nine. If you hit the green you’re quite close most of the time.

“There’s a bit of rough around the greens and a few trees off the tee. It’s the type of golf course where if you play well it feels like you can shoot a low score, but if you’re a little off it can still bite.”

Wiebe made four straight birdies from the fifth, the highlight a tee shot inside two feet at the par-three sixth.

He escaped from the trees at the par-five 15th to make four and followed it up with further birdies at the 16th and 18th.

He said: “It started out a bit scrappy, I missed a couple of greens early. But I made two nice up and downs, so I settled in.

“Then from there it was pretty boring. I hit a ton of fairways and a ton of greens. I had two hot stretches. I birdied four in a row on the front and three out of my last four on the back.

"It was probably better than it felt, but boring is good for me.”

Friedrichsen could afford a bogey at the 13th, where his 11-foot putt stayed up on the lip, as four birdies on each half saw him to seven under.

He said: “I was just solid. Kept it in play off the tee and I hit lots of good approach and wedge shots. That teamed up with the putter, so it was pretty simple.

“I feel like my game has been pretty solid for a long time. I haven’t really put a whole tournament together. I’ll take one shot at a time and see how it goes.”

Behind Green and Kinhult, Pavan’s compatriot Francesco Laporta was in the group at five under with Spaniards Adri Arnaus and Adrian Otaegui, Frenchman Ugo Coussaud, American Sean Crocker and Canada’s Aaron Cockerill.

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