Sergio Garcia is looking forward to making his tournament debut at this week’s Italian Open – the fifth Rolex Series event of the season on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai – as the Masters Tournament Champion prepares to tee it up at Golf Club Milano this week.
The 37 year old, who is currently second in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, has had a year to remember since overcoming Ryder Cup teammate and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose in a play-off at Augusta National to win his first Major Championship and claim his second European Tour title of the season following his victory in Dubai in February.
The World Number Eleven hopes to benefit from similar conditions to those he grew up with this week in Milan, as he looks for victory number three of 2017 ahead of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation next week.
Meanwhile, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton is looking to continue his run of recent good form having written his name into the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship history books when he became the first player to successfully defend the title at the famous Old Course at St Andrews last week.
Joining him in the field is compatriot and former World Number One Lee Westwood, who admits it will take a strong performance to capture the title this week, with a star-studded field gathered at Golf Club Milano. The 44 year old arrives in Milan with form on his side having claimed a share of third at the KLM Open and 15th at the British Masters presented by Sky Sports.
Sergio Garcia: “It’s a nice stretch with playing here in Italy and Spain next week, our tournament with my foundation.
“I’ve never played in Italy as a professional so I’m excited about it. I’ve played here many times as an amateur but never as a professional. I’ve heard good things about it so I’m very excited to have a nice week here with amazing weather, and the food, so it’s all good.
“I haven’t played here for a while but I played a couple of trophies as a youngster and we’ve always enjoyed coming back to Italy. I think it’s very similar to Spanish people. My relationship with the Italian players is really good.
“The weather is very similar to Spain, food is very good like in Spain and even the looks of the towns is similar to where I grew up.”
Lee Westwood: “I didn’t have the result I wanted last week at the Dunhill but I enjoyed this course last year even though I missed the cut and the weather’s going to be a lot better.
“I think it’s a course that’s right up Francesco’s street so he’ll take some beating having the home crowds behind him but it’s a very strong field. They’ve managed to get a lot of quality players here and the field is very strong in depth so it will be a tough tournament to win.
“The Italian Open is a trophy that’s been going a long time and I think everybody on the European Tour our would like to win it – I’ve never won it and it’s high on my priorities. It feels like a big tournament.”
Tyrrell Hatton: “It was an incredible feeling, nice walking up 18 with a three-shot lead. I was very happy.
“It should be a good challenge, I quite like this golf course. It suits my eye, I’ve always enjoyed playing tree-lined courses and the field is great with more World Ranking points on offer.”