Italian Open in Rome 'crown jewel

76th edition at Olgiata starting October 10, Molinari to compete

Redazione ANSA Rome

(ANSA) - Rome, October 1 - The director general of the Ryder Cup 2022, Giampaolo Montali, said the upcoming Italian Open will be a launching pad towards the 2022 event, and in fact will be the "crown jewel of the project" in that it's a "truly unique opportunity".
    Montali spoke together with CONI President Giovanni Malagò at the presentation of the top Italian national golf tournament, taking place with record numbers this year at Rome's Olgiata Golf Club from October 10 to 13.
    There will be 11 Majors champions on the green, along with 98 winners of at least one tournament on the European Tour.
    The Italian Open is the fifth 2019 tournament of the Rolex Series, with prize money totaling seven million dollars.
    Key points are at stake in the lead-up to the 2020 Ryder Cup and the Race to Dubai, and the tournament will have three-way broadcast coverage with RAI, Sky, and GolfTV.
    Francesco "Chicco" Molinari is arguably the most highly anticipated player in the tournament, although the lineup also includes top names such as Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Martin Kaymer, Danny Willett, and Padraig Harrington.
    Molinari will be aiming for an Italian Open three-peat, following wins in 2006 and 2016.
    Although he wasn't in attendance during the presentation at CONI's Salone d'Onore, he was still the centre of attention.
    Italian Golf Federation (FIG) President Franco Chimenti said Molinari "has us dreaming".
    "He will put phenomenal plays into action. There will be lots of great players with him, but Italy can bet on other excellent players such as Andrea Pavan, Renato Paratore, Guido Migliozzi, Edoardo Molinari and Nino Bertasio," Chimenti said.
    Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi was also in attendance, whom Chimenti said he hopes to see at both the Italian Open and the Ryder Cup 2022.
    Raggi said Rome is the "capital of large sporting events".
    "The Italian Open will be an engaging show," Raggi said.
    She said the 2022 Ryder Cup will be a "world event that goes beyond sport to become a driving force for tourism promotion and an engine of social, health, and environmental initiatives".
    Lazio regional councillor for sport, Albino Ruberti, said sport is "essential for well-being, development, and social inclusion".
    "These are the reasons that have convinced the region to support the Italian Open, a great event, for three editions," Ruberti said.
    CONI President Giovanni Malagò reflected back to December 2015, when Rome was named as the first Italian city to host the Ryder Cup, for the 2022 edition.
    "I remember the stadium cheering for CONI and the foresight of Chimenti, genius and recklessness," Malagò said.
    "The duo of Chimenti and Montali for the Ryder is excellent.
    The Italian Open, on the other hand, is a wonderful challenge, especially in view of the Tokyo Olympics, where Italian golf will take the lead," Malagò said.
    Montali said golf is a "sport for everyone".
    "The Italian Open contains the entire heart of Ryder Cup 2022 projects, such as social inclusion, 'Golf in School' and 'Golf is Woman'," Montali said.
    A taste of the upcoming tournament can be had on October 6 in Rome's Piazza di Siena with "Golf in Piazza", the third 2019 event in the Road to Rome 2022, the march towards the 2022 Ryder Cup.
    It will be a free event for anyone who wants to try golf, with the official Ryder Cup trophy in the background.