Cook has already qualified for the American Ryder Cup team who meet Europe at the Belfry in September. But in his first European Tour event, he could make little impression on a day that 48 of the 139-strong field broke 70 on a par-72 course.
The 35-year-old American will need to improve if he is even to make the cut today. His round of 72 was a comparative failure on a sunny day with little wind.
Leading the charge on 64, eight under par, were the New Zealander Frank Nobilo, Stephen Bennett, the 34-year-old from Grimsby, and the Argentinian Jose Coceres.
Gilford, who had seven birdies and no bogeys, was as modest as ever. 'It did not give me a lift to beat John by seven shots today,' he said. 'I'm playing with him again tomorrow and that could be very different.'
LANCIA MARTINI ITALIAN OPEN (Modena) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 64 F Nobilo (NZ), S Bennett, J Coceres (Arg). 65 S Struver (Ger), D Gilford, S Richardson, G Turner (NZ). 66 P Fulke (Swe), D Mijovic (Can), G Ralph, W Westner (SA). 67 U Zilg (Ger), D R Jones, W Grady (Aus), R Rafferty, B Lane, S Ames (Trin & Tob), M-A Angel (Sp), J Evans, J Payne, R Mann, P Price, P Teravainen (US), D Williams. 68 P Senior (Aus), J M Olazabal (Sp), S McAllister, G Hjertstedt (Swe), S Rey (Swi), M Clayton (Aus), J Hobday (SA), M Lanner (Swe), T Giedeon (Ger), B Dassu (It), A Hare, E Giraud (Fr), S Locatelli (It), J Hawkes (SA), G Orr. 69 R Winchester, P O'Malley (Aus), G Day (US), M McLean, R Alvarez (Arg), J Robinson, B Marchbank, S Bowman (US), R Boxall. 70 S Smith, G Cali (It), P Eales, C Raulerson (US), B Gallacher, H Selby-Green, S Ballesteros (Sp), G J Brand, D W Basson (SA). 71 J Berendt (Arg), M Miller, T Charnley, N Wood, S Little, A Hunter, M Farry (Fr), S Grappasonni (It), M Mannelli (It), C Cassells, D Curry, M Harwood (Aus), J Bland, D Cooper, F Lindgren (Swe).Reuse content