Colin Montgomerie will make his first appearance in Europe on The 2003 European Tour International Schedule this week for the 60th Italian Open Telecom Italia.
Montgomerie, winner of seven successive Volvo Order of Merit titles between 1993 and 1999, will head a strong field at Gardagolf, Brescia, from May 1-4 where Ian Poulter will be defending the title.
Poulter has developed a strong affinity with the Italian Open having won the title twice in the past three years.
Twelve months ago he edged ahead of 1999 Open Golf Champion Paul Lawrie on the final green in a dramatic finale at Olgiata Golf Club.
Poulter led from the start after an opening round of 61 but as the final day unfolded, Lawrie twice drew level only for Poulter to hit back and clinch victory by two strokes.
Past winners include last year's Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, who won the Italian Open in 1987 and 1995 as well as the Kronenbourg Open at Gardagolf in 1993, while Seve Ballesteros, winner of five Major Championships, is also in the field.
The Italian challenge will be led by Emanuele Canonica and Costantino Rocca who will be bidding to become the first home winner of the title since Massimo Mannelli 23 years ago.
Last year Canonica fought his way into contention before finishing tied third behind Poulter and Lawrie.
The 60th Italian Open Telecom Italia returns to Gardagolf for the first time since 1997 when Bernhard Langer won the title, shooting a course record eight under par 64 in the final round to overhaul José Maria Olazábal and win the title by a stroke.
Gardagolf is one of the classic Italian parkland courses overlooked by the Alps with the spectacular Lake Garda glistening nearby.
The course undulates between olive groves and vineyards near Brescia and will be hosting the event for the second time.
Telecom Italia are sponsoring the event for a second consecutive year.
The partnership with the Italian Golf Federation is part of "Progetto Italia", a communication programme aimed at three main targets - culture, sports and social affairs.