"It's a very tough, demanding, long golf course, narrow," Pulkkanen said. "You've got to hit some shots out there. I had a nice start, 3-under after five, and that gets me going. It was nice to make a couple more on the back nine."
Rory Sabbatini, the South African-born player who began representing Slovakia this year, had an eagle on the par-5 17th and was in second place. Five players — Kurt Kitayama, Joost Luiten, Shubhankar Sharma, Bernd Wiesberger and Justin Rose — were at 5 under.
With a $7 million purse as part of the Rolex Series, the tournament is making its return to Rome after a 17-year absence from the Italian capital. The Rome return is part of the buildup to the 2022 Ryder Cup at the nearby Marco Simone club.
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