The European Tour travels to Sicily this week for the inaugural Rocco Forte Open at Verdura GC. Matteo Manassero and Edoardo Molinari carry Italian hopes.
The Rocco Forte Open will be contested at Verdura GC on Sicily this week. It’s the first time the tournament has been held but not the first time the European Tour has been to Verdura. It was the venue for the Sicilian Open of 2012, won by Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.
The players will face a composite course at Verdura this week that is made up of nine holes from each of the two Kyle Phillips designed tracks at the resort.
Phillips has been responsible for the design of some of the best new courses around the world in recent years, including Kingsbarns on the Fife coast. The layouts at Verdura have earned a reputation for their quality and magnificent setting. The last six holes of the composite course will be played along the stunning Mediterranean coast.
Italian players Matteo Manassero, Edoardo Molinari and Renato Paratore will be among the favourites and some good names appear on the start sheet. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson tees it up, so too do Li Haotong, Thomas Bjorn and former Masters champions Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir.
Last week’s winner Matt Wallace will be looking to maintain his good run of form.
The weather forecast looks set fair. Some rain earlier in the week might soften the course up so scoring could be good.
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Venue: Verdura GC, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy
Date: May 18-21
Course stats: par 72, 7,352 yards
Defending Champion: Inaugural event
Thursday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Friday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Saturday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Sunday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
James Morrison – The Englishman has been playing consistently this year, making the cut in all but one tournament he’s entered. If he can string four good rounds together he’ll contend. In recent events he’s thrown a couple of bad ones into the mix.
Raphael Jacquelin – He showed signs of a return to form with four good rounds in his last start in the Volvo China Open. He won the Sicilian Open of 2011, albeit on a different course, so should have good memories of Sicily.
Jordan Smith – He missed the cut in the Volvo China Open but had been playing well before that with three straight top-20 finishes. He’s currently 32nd on the Race to Dubai and has twice been a winner on the Challenge Tour in the past. It could be time for Smith to step up and win on the main circuit.
Key hole: 18th. Players drive with striking cliffs as a backdrop and the waves breaking on the shore to their right. It’s a long par-4 of 477 yards and one that will require two strong shots to reach in regulation. A par to win on this one would be no mean feat.