Italian sporting success on English soil might not be done for the summer after Riccardo Fantinelli’s blistering start to the Carris Trophy.
Following on from the Azzurri’s heroics in the European Football Championships, Fantinelli is doing his best to claim silverware for Italian golf.
Fantinelli – who comes from Rome, but attends boarding school in Surrey – fired seven birdies in a stunning round of 63 to claim a four shot lead over the field.
His closest rivals are Harley Smith – winner of last week’s McGregor Trophy – and Scotland’s Daniel Bullen, both on three under par.
England’s Matt Dodd-Berry, Nairn’s Calum Scott, Romford’s Henry Style and Harley Yates from Burhill are a further shot back on two under par after posting rounds of 68.
Almost as impressive as his run of birdies was the fact Fantinelli didn’t drop a single shot – the only competitor in the field to pull off that feat.
On a stifling day at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, nothing was quite as hot as the Italian’s putter.
Starting on the 10th hole, Fantinelli opened with two birdies and managed another two before the turn.
A tap-in on his 10th hole set the pattern for the second nine which concluded with – what else – a birdie on the ninth hole.
When asked about continuing Italy’s summer of success, Fantinelli said: “Yeah – let’s hope so!
“Just need three more good rounds and it can be done. But there are so many good players that until you finish on 72, it’s not done.”
With quarantine rules proving tricky this summer, Fantinelli’s parents will be following his progress from the Italian capital.
And he was happy to report back to them with news of his best ever competitive round.
He added: “It’s great- no dropped shots. Clean all the way to 18 and a great feeling.
“I have to say I got quite lucky with a couple of bounces and holed a few long putts – it was tough out there.
“I was shaking – no, I was fairly in control
“I haven’t been back to Italy since May – I hope to get back before school starts again. Luckily, I had a family friend here to support me which was great.”
It was no real surprise to see Smith once again near the top of the leaderboard after day one.
The Essex golfer was in sparkling form last week to win the McGregor at Camberley Heath.
Today’s opening round of 67 simply carried on that impressive form – five birdies left him sitting pretty again.
In between winning in Surrey and pitching up at Bristol and Clifton, Smith enjoyed the final day of The Open at Royal St George’s and took on board some valuable lessons from watching the play of champion golfer Collin Morikawa.
Joining the England boys’ squad player on three under par was Daniel Bullen from Scotland.
Bullen plays his golf at Aucheterarder which shares a boundary with its more illustrious neighbour, the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles.
And although a long way from home, the Scot was comfortable in the Gloucestershire countryside.
On a baking day when the products of England Golf official supplier Harrogate Water were in real demand, the bouncy conditions and slick greens made for tough scoring.
Yet there were birdies up for grabs. Keeping the bogeys off the card was the secret.
Josh Berry’s round was a case in point. Just like Fantinellie his round featured seven birdies, but unlike the leader he also posted six dropped shots as he signed for a one under par round of 69.
Gibraltar-based Sebastian Desoisa did keep a bogey off his card. A double bogey on the 16th was the only blemish on a day when rolled in three birdie putts for a score of 69.
Another player on one under par was Sam Mukharjee from Gullane. The 15-year-old could at least hold the family bragging rights with twin brother Oliver posting a score of three over par (both pictured above).
Wednesday’s action will be followed by a halfway cut. The top 60 and ties will then progress and play 18 holes on each of the final two days.