Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari will bid to capture his second title in a week and the fourth of a record-breaking season when he tees up at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, the final event of the 2009 Challenge Tour Schedule.
The invincible Italian will also be defending a 100 per cent record on home soil when he heads to San Domenico Golf, in Puglia, having added last week’s Italian Federation Cup to the Piemonte Open title he claimed earlier in the season.
Molinari’s one-stroke victory in Rome took his season’s earnings to €231,180, and with €300,000 on offer to the 45-man field at the season finale, the 28 year old from Turin is on course to establish a record which is set to stand for a long time.
Indeed, if Molinari were to finish ‘only’ fifth – and he has not finished outside the top two in his last three events – he would still end the season with over €100,000 more than England’s David Horsey, who won last season’s Challenge Tour with then-record earnings of €144,118.
But fifth is not in Molinari’s thinking – he has targeted yet another victory to round off his stunning season with a final flourish.
He said: “It would be great to finish the season with another win – I’m unbeaten in Italy on the Challenge Tour this season, so hopefully I can keep that going. My parents will be coming to watch me play the Grand Final and I am sure we will get some good crowds, so hopefully I can put on a good show for them.
“It won’t be easy, because it’s always tough to win two weeks in a row, especially when the field will be one of the toughest of the whole season. But I’m looking forward to it – hopefully I can set a new record which will stand for a long time.”
The main danger to Molinari could come from his close friend Nicolas Colsaerts, who pushed the Italian all the way in Rome last week, only to fall at the final hurdle.
Colsaerts’ runner-up finish meant he closed to within €7,412 of second placed José-Filipe Lima in the Rankings, after the Portuguese opted to take the week off to remain fresh for the season finale.
Both men are in fine form – Colsaerts has finished in the top six in his last three appearances, whilst Lima has finished first and second in his past two Challenge Tour events – and the pair seem set to fight it out for the title of the ‘best of the rest’.
Further down the Rankings the likes of Peter Gustafsson, currently in 20th position, will be looking nervously over his shoulder. One place behind the Swede is Andrew McArthur, who will be hoping his luck turns this year after finishing 21st and 22nd in the previous two seasons.
After slowly slipping down the Rankings the Scot is in need of an improved performance in Puglia in order to secure one of the 20 European Tour cards available, and the same could be said for England’s Adam Gee.
Despite missing the cut last week Gee clung onto 45th place, finishing just €1,574 ahead of unlucky ‘loser’ Carl Suneson of Spain. But with €51,500 on offer to this week’s winner, a maiden victory could propel the Englishman into the top ten in the Rankings.
With dreams set to be made and hearts sure to be broken, there is everything to play for at a course which is renowned for its beauty.
San Domenico Golf, which is part of the European Golf Design group, is situated on the east coast of Italy near the town of Fasano, a location which lends itself to some spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.
The originally flat and featureless agricultural land has been shaped to create definition, resulting in a links-style layout. The course is ring-fenced by traditional stone walling, and olive trees line a number of the fairways.
Measuring 6,677 yards the course places a degree of emphasis on strategic design, and boasts a natural elegance which complements the adjoining Masseria San Domenico Hotel.