Molinari glad to be home as Fleetwood chases form in Rome

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Molinari glad to be home as Fleetwood chases form in Rome

Fran hoping to be the man in Italy (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Home favourite Francesco Molinari is hoping to recapture his winning form at the DS Automobiles Italian Open when he tees it up later today [1pm – Thursday] at the newly renovated Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

A win this week for the Italian, who returns to the event after missing the 2020 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic, would make him just the third player to win the Italian Open on more than two occasions following his maiden victory in 2006 and his triumph ten years later in 2016.

The 2018 Open Champion entered the history books by winning a maximum five points in Europe’s victory at Le Golf National in the same year as his Major breakthrough.

“I missed it last year, so it’s great to be back,” said Molinari. “Great to be at the Ryder Cup course. There are many reasons to be excited this week. I’m healthy and looking forward to the week.

“It was a bit up and down to be honest (in Switzerland), a bit of work to be done. Given the injuries I’ve had this year, I think at the moment it’s just about getting a bit more continuity and playing week-in, week-out and figuring out stuff every day I’m out on the course. It was great fun being back in Crans last week, it’s nice to be back in Europe for a few weeks and we’ve got Wentworth next week to look forward to. It’s a great run and hopefully we can play some good golf.

“It’s a great design. It’s probably even better than I thought it would be. Conditions-wise it’s great, I think all the guys are happy with the greens and the fairways. I was here… I was trying to figure it out… 22 or 23 years ago as a kid and the clubhouse is the same but everything else looks very different, they’ve done a really good job with it.”

This week he will play alongside his Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood, the Englishman with whom he formed an undefeated partnership in Paris three years ago.

“It’s nice to be back,” said Fleetwood. “I haven’t been to this event for a couple of years, so it’s lovely to come back. I think everybody likes the place. I love the food and enjoy playing in front of the Italian crowds. A lot to look forward to really. I’m back on the European Tour after a little bit, I played a bit in the summer and then a month or two out. It’s always nice to come back to places you’ve played for a long time in your career. I’ll just continue to work on my game, continue to try and get better – that’s all you can do.”

The pair are joined in the field by fellow Major winners Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer when Marco Simone – part of the European Tour Destinations network – hosts Italy’s national open for a second time having previously done so in 1994, before becoming the third venue in continental Europe to host the Ryder Cup in 2023.

Ross McGowan returns to Italy with fond memories after winning the 2020 edition at Chervo Golf Club where he prevailed in style to end an 11-year wait for his second European tour title.

The Englishman finished tied fourth at last week’s Omega European Masters and is hoping his recent good run of form continues this week as he attempts to defend his title.

Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin fly the flag for Ireland this week in Italy.

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