Edoardo Molinari will make his first appearance on home soil since returning to the European Tour winners’ circle last month as the former Ryder Cup player joins a strong field at the Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily.
The 36 year old claimed a dramatic third career title at the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco just over a month ago, beating Irishman Paul Dunne in a play-off to earn his first victory in seven years.
Molinari is visiting the idyllic Italian island of Sicily for the first time this week and he is aiming to regain some momentum heading into the busy summer months, having followed his victory with a couple of disappointing weeks in China.
The 2010 Ryder Cup player is joined by numerous Italian hopefuls including four-time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero, while two former Masters champions are also in the field in the shape of Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir.
“I’m very happy this week. Obviously winning in Morocco was very big for me and it’s great to be back on home soil playing a tour event.
“It’s fantastic to be here, it’s actually my first time in Sicily and the golf course is very good, especially if it’s windy, it can be quite tricky. It’s obviously very exposed being right by the sea and I’m sure it will look fantastic on TV because the scenery is second to none.
“You need to be on the good side of the draw, sometimes things tend to even out but obviously with the course being so exposed if it blows it’s very tricky and if it’s not windy it’s very accessible.
“I’m starting to play better and better, more consistent. Obviously Morocco was great and then I had two poor weeks in China but I worked hard in the last two weeks and I’m just trying to get back to the level that I played in Morocco which is surely good enough.
“There are a lot of guys coming from Italy and I’ve seen a lot of guys here who are friends of mine and I haven’t seen much of lately. Hopefully they can step up and win it and get a card that way.”
“I am glad to be back. It’s a great place here, everyone can see that. It’s particularly great that we can all come back to the south of Italy to just be here and play golf – everything seems to taste better, the air is fresher. It’s just wonderful.
“My game is good. I played really well with Renato (Paratore) at the GolfSixes, that was a lot of fun. I’ve had a consistent start to the season.
“It was only in India where I played really well and finished third. Otherwise I’ve been at the middle of the back, but almost every time I have played four rounds, so that’s a very good thing. It keeps the consistency and it keeps the confidence high so it’s all good.
“I hope there will be as many people as possible watching and get some crowds to cheers us on. It’s always nice to play in front of the Italian fans.”
“This is a great golf course,” he said. “It will be my first time practicing on it for a while this week and I know the composite course is a bit different so I am curious to see what they went for this year. It’s great to be back though.
“If the wind picks ups it won’t be such low scoring but otherwise I think it will be low scoring for sure. It will good to watch on TV, with lots of birdies, that’s just how this golf course is.
“If there is too much rough then this course becomes too tricky – there are a lot of little doglegs and mounds. It’s going to be firm too so I think the course’s biggest defence is the wind and the firm greens.”
“I’m really glad we’re here, it’s a beautiful place,” he said. “The sea is unbelievably calm and blue and it’s a fantastic place to stay at.
“A nice resort, I came here a couple of years ago. Italian food and all that kind of stuff makes it a special week.
“I remember a very good course, I remember the green set-ups were quite nice, there’s picturesque holes by the water but it’s actually pretty demanding if the wind blows a bit.
“I think you’ve got it all, you’ve got beautiful views but a technical golf course. I liked my first experience of the place a couple of years ago so when I heard we were coming back here, I put my hand up.
“It’s been okay for a while, I keep shooting myself in the foot here and there on occasion, that kind of stops my momentum,” he said.
“I feel like I’m playing good enough but it’s just these little details that when you add them all up make a bit of a difference.
“I’m into this building process of trying to get rid of these mistakes. I’m kind of actually waiting for a week to kick off a decent campaign.”
“This is my first time in Sicily, everything has been great so far – beautiful scenery and I’m looking forward to getting out on the golf course.
“I must say I do like seaside courses. I’ve always been a fan of links golf although I’m not sure this course plays like that but to be here next to the ocean gives it a really nice feel.
“I’m not sure how my game is at the moment but I’m about to find out. It’s my first tournament since the Masters so I’ve had a few weeks off in the States doing a few different things and I’m looking forward to getting back at it and I’m going to be playing the next three weeks in a row so hopefully I can get some momentum.
“It seems like the fields on the European Tour are getting stronger and stronger and it’s great to see a few guys back here that I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a fun atmosphere.”