After another successful sojourn to the USA, The European Tour makes its way ‘home’ this week for the first event of the 2011 season to be played on European soil at the inaugural Sicilian Open.
With the European golf season beginning to show the first signs of a spring bloom, there are fewer more appropriate destinations than the beautiful island of Sicily to tee off the year’s European odyssey.
Following the huge success of Luke Donald at the WGC–Accenture Match Play Championship and top three finishes for Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari at last week’s WGC–Cadillac Championship, The European Tour Membership – led by its Ryder Cup-winning Captain Colin Montgomerie – will bring its considerable talents to bear upon the stunning Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA this week.
Montgomerie will be joined by a host of European Tour champions, including BMW PGA Championship winner Simon Khan and former US Open Champion Michael Campbell, as Sicily plays host to a European Tour event for the first time.
The Italian island’s addition to the Tour’s International Schedule, joining the BMW Italian Open, will further enhance golf’s growing reputation in a country that has produced three of Europe’s outstanding performers over the last few years, namely the Molinari brothers Edoardo and Francesco, and 17 year old sensation Matteo Manassero.
The performances of that Italian trio around the globe over the past three years have been truly breathtaking, and have elevated the sport to a new level in a country where football is not just a sport, but a way of life.
Costantino Rocca, the Godfather of Italian golf who was the first Italian to play in The Ryder Cup in 1993, will be at Donnafugata to play in and support the inaugural Sicilian Open, and he believes the new tournament is an important milestone for golf in his homeland.
“It’s very important for golf in Italy that we have another European Tour event as well as the BMW Italian Open,” said Rocca, who lost in a play-off to John Daly in The 1995 Open Championship.
“Having these tournaments helps young Italian players come through and see the best players in action.
“Sicily is an important region for the development of golf in our country, and this tournament comes at the right time. In Sicily you can play golf 12 months a year, and we need to promote the region and let people know that.
“Sponsors want to see more tournaments and to attract more people. We have the facilities, the courses, the weather and some good young players coming through, so we need to promote golf in this way, through tournaments.”