Italian Open: Gareth Maybin one off pace in Turin after 67
Gareth Maybin boosted his prospects of retaining his European Tour card after a five-under 67 left him one off the pace after day one of the Italian Open.
Maybin, currently 124th in the Race to Dubai standings, produced a fine round of six birdies and only one bogey.
That left Maybin, 33, one behind local hero Francesco Molinari and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger.
Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington both hit rounds of 72 with Simon Thornton on 73.
Clarke dropped to two over after a double bogey at the fourth but regrouped with three birdies as he matched par in Turin.
Damien McGrane hit a 71 with Paul McGinley matching Thornton's 73.
Last year's runner-up David Higgins looks unlikely to repeat those heroics after firing a disappointing opening 78, which was also Peter Lawrie's finishing total.
Higgins produced the best finish of his European Tour career at last year's Italian event as he shared second spot but the Kerry man has struggled for form this season and looks set for a return visit to the Tour School in November.
Maybin is currently some £27,000 behind the 110th spot which will secure a card for next season.
However, the Ballyclare man achieved a top-10 finish at the recent Made in Denmark event and his opening round in Turin offered him further encouragement as he attempts to salvage his card for next season.
"It was good. I kept it in play off the tee which is the secret around here," said Maybin, who was not entirely happy with his ball-striking despite his impressive score.
"If I can continue to do that, there is no reason why I can't continue to keep climbing the leaderboard.
"This kind of course is more up my street as opposed to last week [at the Czech Masters].
"The course is not overly long and you have got to shape the ball."