Friday, April 24, 2009

Top Class turn out in Turin

A total of nine champions from BMW tournaments past and present will form part of an all-star cast aiming to drive away with the BMW Italian Open title at Royal Park I Roveri in Turin from May 7-10. Headlining the field is Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie, the eight-time Vardon Trophy winner as European Number One, who will be seeking to add the 2009 BMW Italian Open crown to his success in the BMW International Open in Munich ten years ago. Montgomerie is joined in the field by Major Champions John Daly of the United States and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, with the former attempting to follow the same path as Montgomerie by adding the Italian Open to his 2001 victory in the BMW International Open. The new partnership between BMW, The European Tour and the Italian Golf Federation, announced earlier this year, saw BMW confirm their commitment to three high profile tournaments on European soil in 2009. And the combination of those factors and a stunning location in Royal Park I Roveri, with its spectacular Alpine backdrop, has ensured that many Tour champions will assemble close to the city of Turin next month. As well as Montgomerie and Daly, the field boasts seven other players who have savoured the feeling of collecting a BMW trophy in their professional careers. Denmark’s Anders Hansen completed a double success at Wentworth Club in 2007 when he edged out England’s Justin Rose to win the BMW PGA Championship just 12 months after another Englishman, David Howell, lifted the title. Hansen and Howell are both confirmed starters next month with Howell aiming to collect a third BMW title following his success in the 2005 BMW International Open – a title also won by Denmark’s Thomas Björn (2002) and Sweden’s Niclas Fasth (2007), who also tee up at Royal Park I Roveri. Two players who have previously won the BMW Asian Open will bring their talents to Turin – namely Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin and Raphaël Jacquelin of France – along with a former winner of the BMW Russian Open, Marcus Fraser of Australia. The Italian Open has a long and impressive history dating back to 1925, and many of the great champions in world golf have won this prestigious title, including Billy Casper, Sir Henry Cotton, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and Peter Thomson. Last year, South Africa’s Hennie Otto became the latest player to join the roll call of champions when he edged out England’s Oliver Wilson with eventual 2008 European Number One, Robert Karlsson of Sweden, in third place at Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club near Milan. Otto returns to Italy to defend his crown next month and finds himself in the illustrious company of five other players who have held aloft the coveted Italian Open trophy, namely Patrik Sjöland of Sweden (1998), Gregory Havret of France (2001), Steve Webster of England (2005) and Francesco Molinari of Italy (2006). Of course, all eyes – and the hopes and wishes of the host nation – will be focused on Molinari, who became the first Italian golfer since Massimo Mannelli 26 years earlier to win his national Open. Molinari and his elder brother, Edoardo, are both attached to the host golf club of Royal Park I Roveri and the brothers will be keen to thrill their supporters on ‘home soil’.

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