Italian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
Open champion Shane Lowry joins home favourite Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey and Justin Rose in a star-studded field at the Italian Open – the fifth Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai – in Rome.
The Irishman succeeded Molinari as Open champion with his remarkable performance at Royal Portrush and Lowry's appetite has been whetted. He believes the only thing which could come close to topping his Open triumph would be winning The Masters.
Lowry claimed his first major title at Royal Portrush in July and when it comes to more long-term goals the 32-year-old would love to become the first Irishman to slip on the green jacket given to winners of the Masters at Augusta National.
“Golf is funny because if you don’t win one people ask you when you’re going to win one. You win one, they ask you when you’re going to win your next one,” Lowry said. "I’m going to enjoy this one. Thankfully we don’t have another major for a while, but I think the only thing that could come close to doing what I did in Portrush would be a green jacket.
“That’s obviously the next major but I’m not the type of golfer that tries to peak for certain weeks. So I don’t see myself trying to peak for majors. I just see myself picking out my schedule and going out and trying to compete in as many tournaments as I can and try and win as many tournaments as I can, and if it somehow happens to be the week of a major, all well and good and I’ll take it from there.”
Asked which of the majors represents his best chance of more success, Lowry added: “My record is probably best in US Opens, so I could do all right in those. I’ve not got a great record around Augusta. I’ve always struggled with my driving for some reason and I shouldn’t, really.
“If I’m playing good, it doesn’t matter what course I’m on. Over the years I’ve played every type of golf course well. To win majors you need to be holing six-footers for par and you need to be getting out of trouble when you’re in trouble and you need to have your full A game mentally and physically to win them.
“Hopefully at some stage over the next 10 or 15 years I’ll put myself in the position a few times and maybe win another one.”
He joins a world-class field at Olgiata Golf Club which includes Molinari - the Italian teeing it up on home soil for the first time in 18 months after a remarkable run of success, including his starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup win in France when he claimed five points from five matches.
Molinari will be playing on home soil for the first time in 18 months. Last year he enjoyed his maiden victory on the PGA Tour, claimed the BMW PGA Championship and crowned it all with victory in The Open at Carnoustie. He completed a sensational season by becoming the first Italian to win the Race to Dubai, holding off Masters champion Patrick Reed and 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood.
“It’s going to be amazing coming back to Italy, and especially to Rome,” said Molinari. “I love the Italian Open and the Italian fans that have supported it over all these years. I have played some of the best golf in my career across my country and to win a Rolex Series event at home in front of your family and friends, would be something truly special.
“Last year was just incredible and I cannot wait to be share that with everyone back home when we get there for the Italian Open. It is a fantastic event and I know this year will be even bigger coming back to Rome in the lead up to the 2022 Ryder Cup.”
Molinari became the first Italian to win his national open twice since the event joined the European Tour International Schedule in 1972 and he will be targeting a third Italian Open title at the 76th edition of the historic tournament with the home crowd sure to cheer him on.
He came close to adding another Rolex Series victory to his name last year when he carded rounds 66-66-66-65 at Gardagolf Country Club to finish runner-up to his Ryder Cup teammate Thorbjørn Olesen. Earlier this year, the Italian won a a third PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before finishing tied fifth at The Masters.
Molinari added: “Olgiata is a great course and I’m looking forward to playing it again. To me the Italian Open is such a prestigious event and having its place as part of the Rolex Series only adds to the great history this tournament has in golf, and in sport in Italy.”
Rose will be playing at Olgiata for the first time in 17 years. “I’m excited to come back to Italy, and to Rome in particular, which is such a stunning city and a highlight for us players,” said the 2013 U.S. Open Champion. “The history and tradition behind the Italian Open makes this tournament very special and with the 2022 Ryder Cup coming to Rome, it is going to be an amazing week in one of the world’s most iconic cities.
“It’s always great to come back to Europe and I’m excited to play Olgiata again 17 years on at such a different point in my career. I know the Italian fans are great, they are sports mad in their country, and following Francesco’s success and The 2022 Ryder Cup on the horizon, it’s going to be an awesome experience in Rome.”
Located 15 miles north of Rome, Olgiata Golf Club is a classic tree-lined parkland golf course designed by English architect C. Kenneth Cotton and restyled by architect Jim Fazio in 1996.
The Italian Open was won in 2011 by Robert Rock, in 2012 by Gonzalo Fernandez Castano, in 2013 by Julian Quesne, in 2014 by Hennie Otto, in 2015 by Rikard Karlberg, in 2016 by Molinari, in 2017 by Tyrrell Hatton and last year by Thorbjorn Olesen.
Francesco Molinari. Would love to do it for the local fans
Justin Rose. Certain to be a contender. He always is
Shane Lowry. Loving his status as a major champion
Francesco Molinari. Will be inspired by return to home shores
Justin Rose. Ready for another victory
Shane Lowry. A truly world-class performer
Tommy Fleetwood. Long overdue
Paul Casey. One of the best ball strikers in the game
Tyrrell Hatton. A man in need of a big week
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Looking for a big finish to the year
Ian Poulter. Missing out on defence of Houston Open title to be here
Alex Noren. Needs to arrest alarming slump
Eddie Pepperell. Trying to get his year back on track
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