Golf: Open Italia set to start

10 Major champions at Olgiata Golf Club, Rome

Redazione ANSA Rome

(ANSA) - Rome, October 9 - The 76th Open Italia is kicking off Thursday at the Olgiata Golf Club in Rome - the top Italian golf event as the 2022 Ryder cup draws closer.
    The Open Italia will wrap up on October 13.
    Italy's Francesco Molinari is vying for his third title while Shane Lowry will try to win back the leadership of the Race to Dubai.
    Top international golfers will be competing in a tournament with a jackpot of seven million dollars, but also for key points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and the 2020 Ryder Cup (Wisconsin, US).
    And ahead of the Italian edition of the Ryder Cup - scheduled on September 30-October 2, 2022 at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Guidonia - Rome will once again be the capital of golf with the fifth 2019 edition of the Rolex Series European Tour.
    After four years in Lombardy, the leading national golf event will take place in Lazio, where it will remain at least until 2021.
    Everybody will be watching Francesco ''Chicco'' Molinari at a tournament that will see 10 Major champions on the green, 96 winners of at least one tournament on the European Tour, 28 among the top 100 players in the World Ranking and six among the protagonists of the European triumph at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.
    With Molinari is also Sweden's Alex Noren and Britain's Justin Rose (Olympic champion at the 2016 Rio Games and the world's No. 5), Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey. The outgoing champion, Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, will not compete because he has been suspended from the European Tour after his arrest for allegedly harassing a passenger on a flight from Nashville to London last summer.
    After his wins in 2006 and 2016, ''Laser Frankie'' Molinari is aiming for his third victory to beat Ugo Grappasonni's record (champion in 1950 and 1954) and make history by becoming the first Italian golfer to conquer it three titles.
    The Turin-born player in 2018 in Soiano del Lago near Brescia nearly made it but had to surrender to Olesen at the last hole.
    Eight Major champions will be on the field with him and Rose: Lowry, Martin Kaymer, Danny Willett, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Josè Maria Olazabal, Trevor Immelman and Michael Campbell.
    The event will be outstanding with veteran, current and future Ryder Cup champions.
    All eyes in Olgiata will also be on Thomas Bjorn, the captain of the Ryder Cup in Paris who surrendered his role to Harrington for 2020.
    Italian players will be the protagonists of a super event that was played for the first time in 1925 by three golfers wearing a jacket and tie: William H. Jolly, Luigi Prette and Francesco Pasquali, who won the first title.
    Overall, 13 Italians will be competing. Along with Francesco Molinari and his brother Edoardo, the other Italian golfers include Rome's Andrea Pavan, who is considered in top form at the moment, and Renato Paratore, who will be playing at home.
    Other contenders will be Guido Migliozzi, who as a rookie already has two victories under his belt this season, Lorenzo Gagli, Nino Bertasio, Filippo Bergamaschi, Matteo Manassero and new entries Francesco Laporta, Lorenzo Scalise, Edoardo Raffaele Lipparelli and Enrico Di Nitto.
    The event will kick off Wednesday with the Rolex Pro-Am (with a professional player and two amateurs) and ''The 3rd Junior Road to The 2022 Ryder Cup'', with the best Italian talents to breathe the atmosphere of the challenge between Europe and the US.
    The tournament will be broadcast by three networks: Italy's State television Rai, Sky and GOLFTV. It will be the sixth edition in Lazio and the winner will get 1,160,000 dollars.
    And as Rome waits for the 2022 Ryder Cup, the show is called Open Italia, a tournament won eight times by six Italian players since 1925.
    Along with the two victories achieved by Grappasonni and Molinari and Pasquali's first title, the other winners are: Aldo Casera (1948), Baldovino Dassù (1976) and Massimo Mannelli (1980).