Scott Jamieson 'really happy' to match Rory McIlroy's start in Italian Open

Scott Jamieson joined headline acts Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick near the top of the leaderboard after a tough opening day in the DS Automobiles Italian Open on the outskirts of Rome.

Both teeing up at Marco Simone Golf Club in preparation for next year’s Ryder Cup there, McIlroy covered his last seven holes in five-under for a four-under-par 67 while US Open champion Fitzpatrick had moved into the lead on five-under when play was suspended due to darkness following an hour’s delay at the start due to lightning.

“It was good,” said McIlroy, the undoubted star attraction, of his effort, having found a couple of nasty spots in thick rough on his outward journey after starting at the tenth and holing big par putts back-to-back around the turn.

His first round as a professional on Italian soil came to life when he holed out from 115 yards for an eagle-2 at the third - his 12th hole of the day - before adding birdies at the fifth, eighth and ninth.

Scott Jamieson lines up a putt on the 16th hole in the first round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“I played some really good golf on the way in,” added McIlroy, who is looking to cement his position at the top of the DP World Tour Rankings after being pipped by Shane Lowry in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last weekend.

“I played the more difficult nine well and the easier nine not so well, so it probably evened out. Yeah, I can't complain. Just need to tidy up a few things going into the next few days.”

Keeping it on the fairway a bit more will be top of that list. “The rough is incredibly thick and there's sort of jungle outside of that if you get a play way off line,” observed McIlroy.

By the looks of it, a similar tough set up that played into Europe’s hands at Le Golf National in the 2018 match could be on the cards for the next Ryder Cup clash.

Rory McIlroy is congratulated by playing partner Nicolai Hojgaard after holing out for an eagle at the third hole. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“It's all about how do we set the European team up to win and we lost pretty badly last time,” said McIlroy of a record 19-9 defeat at the hands of the Americans at Whistling Straits last September. “I think the way this golf course is designed, and then if we can set it up the right way, I think that sets us up to have the best chance possible.”

Playing in the afternoon, Jamieson held the outright lead after picking up birdies at the third, fifth, ninth, tenth and 12th before dropping his only shot of the day at the par-4 15th.

“Really happy with that,” said the big Scot after matching McIlroy’s effort. “It was a tough day and I was taken aback with how windy it was, to be honest.

“The eighth hole was the toughest hole on the course and I made it longer, but I holed a really nice put there to save par and was able to back that up with birdies at nine and ten.

“There’s probably always going to be some bogeys out there, but you're going to get chances at a couple of the par 5s, so it's important to stay patient.”

Playing in the same group as McIlroy, defending champion Nicolai Hojgaard opened with a 68, two shots better than his twin brother Rasmus.

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