After an opening bogey on Thursday, the rest of the first round of the Challenge Tour’s Italian Challenge at Margara Golf Club in Fubine was an assured effort and he made six birdies on his way to a five-under-par 66.
That put him one stroke off the lead which was held by England’s Nathan Kimsey. Ritchie, the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion, shared second with Daan Huizing of the Netherlands, France’s Frederic Lacroix, Italian Filippo Bergamaschi and Daniel Gavins of England.
Ritchie started his round on the 10th, and after the early dropped shot, he picked up birdies on 14 and 18 ahead of the turn. A second birdie in two holes came immediately after the turn on the first, and then he made three in a row from the fifth to the seventh.
Making his Challenge Tour debut outside of South Africa was Ruan Conradie, who carded a three-under 68 in a bogey-free effort. Jacques Blaauw was the next best of the South Africans with his two-under 69, while Oliver Bekker opened with a one-under 70. Hennie du Plessis carded a one-over 72 to start.