Henrik Stenson takes early lead in Italy in push for Ryder Cup wild card

Ex-Open champion cards seven birdies in flawless opening 64 at Marco Simone Golf Club

Former Open champion Henrik Stenson continued to press his case for a Ryder Cup wild card after making a superb start to the DS Automobiles Italian Open in Rome.

Stenson carded seven birdies in a flawless opening 64 at Marco Simone Golf Club, which will host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States in 2023, to share the lead with Min Woo Lee and Kalle Samooja.

The 45-year-old has made five appearances in the Ryder Cup and won all three of his matches as a wild card in Paris in 2018 but had slipped outside the world’s top 200 before finishing fourth and third in the last two weeks.

“Once again I think I played a good round of golf. I don’t want to make any mistakes early in terms of missing greens, so the few times I did I managed to keep a clean card and made some lovely putts to keep it tidy, so very happy with that,” Stenson said.


“More than anything I feel like I am in a good frame of mind to play golf and to try and get the best score out of my game. There is still more to wish for, but we take the positives and keep on working on the rest.”

Stenson is also scheduled to contest next week’s final qualifying event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, after which Europe captain Pádraig Harrington will name his three wild cards for Whistling Straits.

Edoardo Molinari, who was part of the victorious Ryder Cup side in 2010, recorded a hole-in-one on the seventh on his way to an opening 65 to share fourth place with Eddie Pepperell and Scott Hend.

“It was a very good shot, it was a perfect yardage for a five iron,” Molinari said. “As soon as I hit it I knew it was going to be very, very close, but obviously to go in there’s a bit of luck and I’m happy it went my way today.

“As a professional I’ve had five, maybe six holes-in-one and never won anything, so today was a bit of a bonus as well to win a car.”

Tommy Fleetwood had threatened to take the overnight lead when he covered his first 12 holes in six under par, including a run of four straight birdies around the turn.

However, Fleetwood missed the green on the par-three 17th and compounded the error by three-putting from short range for a double bogey, but bounced back to birdie the 18th and complete a five-under-par 66.

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who can move into the automatic Ryder Cup places with a strong performance this week, carded an opening 69 containing five birdies and three bogeys.

Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell shot a steady opening round of level par 71 but Cormac Sharvin struggled on the way to a seven-over-par 78.

Italian Open (Marco Simone GC, Rome, British unless stated, Par 72):

64 Henrik Stenson (Swe), Min-Woo Lee (Aus), Kalle Samooja (Fin).

65 Scott Hend (Aus), Eddie Pepperell, Edoardo Molinari (Ita).

66 Tommy Fleetwood, Adria Arnaus (Spa), Francesco Laporta (Ita), Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den).

67 Steven Brown, Johannes Veerman (USA), Adrien Saddier (Fra), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Ross Fisher.

68 Brandon Stone (Rsa), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Julian Suri (USA), Robin Roussel (Fra).

69 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Jorge Campillo (Spa), Alexander Levy (Fra), Ignacio Elvira (Spa), Callum Shinkwin, Sam Horsfield, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Gavin Green (Mal), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), David Horsey, Julien Guerrier (Fra), Oliver Farr, Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Dale Whitnell.

70 Richard Bland, Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Sami Valimaki (Fin), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Victor Perez (Fra), Paul Waring, Marcus Armitage, Dean Burmester (Rsa), Daniel van Tonder (Rsa), Andy Sullivan ,Thomas Pieters (Bel), Jacopo Vecchi Fossa (Ita), Filippo Celli (Ita), Matthew Southgate, Scott Jamieson, Ashley Chesters, Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Julien Quesne (Fra), Adrian Meronk (Pol), David Coupland.

71 Joost Luiten (Ned), Daniel Gavins, Jonathan Caldwell (N Ire), Antoine Rozner (Fra), Adrian Otaegui (Spa), Renato Paratore (Ita), Joakim Lagergren (Swe), David Drysdale, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa), Joel Stalter (Fra), Matthew Jordan, Tae-Hee Lee (Kor), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra).

72 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den), Chris Wood, Wade Ormsby (Aus), Grant Forrest, John Catlin (USA), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), George Coetzee (Rsa), Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Romain Langasque (Fra), Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Matthew Fitzpatrick, Marcel Siem (Ger), Andrea Romano (Ita), Thomas Detry (Bel), Andrew Johnston, Alvaro Quiros (Spa), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Sean Crocker (USA), Justin Walters (Rsa), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Jamie Donaldson, Sebastian Garcia (Spa), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Garrick Porteous, Laurie Canter.

73 Wil Besseling (Ned), Sebastian Soederberg (Swe), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Stephen Gallacher, Justin Harding (Rsa), Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Matt Wallace, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe), Jordan Smith, Zander Lombard (Rsa), Oliver Wilson, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den), Darius van Driel (Ned).

74 Pietro Bovari (Ita), Luke Donald, Gregory Havret (Fra), Kyong-Jun Moon (Kor).

75 Martin Kaymer (Ger), Richard McEvoy, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Calum Hill, Ross McGowan, David Law, Giovanni Manzoni (Ita), Davide Buchi (Ita), Richie Ramsay, Chris Paisley, Nino Bertasio (Ita), Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Oliver Fisher, Joel Sjoeholm (Swe).

76 Ryan Fox (Nzl), Lorenzo Scalise (Ita), Gregorio Ger Leo (Ita), Jeff Winther (Den), Robert Rock, David Howell, Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Ricardo Santos (Por), Aaron Cockerill (Can), Svn-Hwan Kim (USA).

77 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Graeme Storm, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Stefano Mazzoli (Ita), Enrico Di Nitto (Ita), Luca Cianchetti (Ita), James Morrison, Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Jack Senior, Connor Syme.

78 Aaron Zemmer (Ita), Cormac Sharvin (N Ire).

79 Federico Maccario (Ita).

80 Andrea Pavan (Ita).

81 Tommaso Perrino (Ita), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra).

86 Marc Warren.