Stephen Browne avoided a first round "train wreck" to keep his tour card dream on track in Italy.
The Dubliner, 33, hit a rollercoaster 69 in the Challenge Tour's Grand Final as Colm Moriarty opened with a steady 68.
The Irish pair must finish first or second to jump into the top 20 in the rankings and earn European Tour cards.
And Browne was happy to keep his hopes intact after a rollercoaster round that featured an eagle, six birdies, three bogeys and a triple bogey seven.
Browne explained: "It was some day alright. I started with a bogey at the first, birdied the par three second and then chipped it in for an eagle two at the third.
"Then I birdied the sixth and seventh and I’m thinking ‘here we go’. But typically at that point it started going a bit pear-shaped."
The Irish ace bogeyed the eighth and 10th and then took three attempts to chip back onto the 14th green after getting a flyer.
A triple bogey seven left him facing disaster but he composed himself to birdie three of the last four holes and finish the day tied for 18th.
Beaming, Browne added: "I am very pleased given it had started looking like a train wreck on the back nine but I managed to recover."
Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France took a three shot lead after shaving two strokes off Browne's 2005 course record with a blistering, nine under par 62.