Lowdown:
The European Tour heads to Sicily this week for the second running of the Sicilian Open. Raphael Jacquelin of France will defend the title at the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort.
It’s a new venue for the event and one the players are looking forward to testing themselves on.
“I hear the new course is very good,” said defending champ Jacquelin. “So I’m really looking forward to it.”
Set on the coast with sweeping fairways, the layout is a Kyle Phillips design. He’s the man behind a number of the most respected layouts created across the globe in the last 20 years, including Kingsbarns on the Fife coast. The course at Verdura certainly has something of the Scottish links about it.
Teenage sensation Matteo Manassero heads a strong home contingent playing in this tournament. The 18-year-old narrowly missed out on his bid to make it to the US Masters but he’s remaining philosophical.
“The Masters would have been an amazing bonus,” he said. “But I don’t feel I’ve missed out because now I have a great chance to win in Italy this week and I think everybody would love to win in their home country.”
Manassero has played some excellent golf over the last few weeks. He finished second in the Open de Andalucia and then was sixth in Morocco.
In last year’s Sicilian Open, hosted at Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, France’s Raphael Jacquelin held off England’s Anthony Wall to claim the title by a single shot.

Venue: Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily, Italy
Date: Mar 29 – Apr 1
Course stats: par 72, 7,325 yards
Purse: €1,000,000
Defending Champion: Raphael Jacquelin (-12)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am
Friday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am
Saturday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm
Sunday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12pm

Player Watch:
Matteo Manassero – The home favourite is on sparkling form and a win looks inevitable any time soon, this could be the week.

Nicolas Colsaerts – Another man who narrowly missed out on a trip to Augusta, the Belgian will have something to prove this week. He’s had a solid season so far with three top-10s and no missed cuts. This is a long track so should suit Colsaerts’ game.

Richie Ramsay – The Scot has not produced his best golf over four rounds yet this year but has shown glimpses of what he can do from tee to green. He’s currently seventh in greens in regulation (GIR) on the circuit, but a lowly 184 in putts per GIR. If he can get the putter working this week, he could contend.

Key hole: 18th. It’s a long par 4 of 475 yards where players face a perilous drive as well as a testing approach. The drive must be played over the corner of the sea while the green sits over a gully, perched precariously on the cliff’s edge.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
Shell Houston Open Preview