Ian Poulter will attempt to continue his love affair with Italy this week when he looks for a third victory in five years in the 61st Telecom Italia Open at the Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club in Milan.
The omens are good for the 28 year old Englishman for his two previous successes have come in even numbered years, at Is Molas in 2000 and Olgiata in 2002. Should he complete the hat-trick, he would become the third most successful player in the history of the event behind four time winners Auguste Boyer and Flory van Donck.
Headlining the event alongside Poulter are Major Champions Paul Lawrie from Scotland – runner up to the Englishman in 2002 - and Spain’s José Maria Olazábal, who will make his first appearance in the event for five years.
Olazábal, a winner of 22 European Tour titles including two Masters Tournament victories, will be seeking his maiden victory in the event but will face a stiff challenge from a strong field all vying for the lion’s share of the €1,200,000 prize fund.
The Spaniard has competed in the Telecom Italia Open on ten previous occasions since making his debut 20 years ago. During that time he finished runner-up on three occasions - to England’s Richard Boxall in 1990, to Germany’s Bernhard Langer in 1997 and to Sweden’s Patrik Sjöland in 1998.
Other leading players in action include the last three winners of the Volvo PGA Championship in Ignacio Garrido, Anders Hansen and Andrew Oldcorn, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and the Argentine pair of Eduardo Romero and Ricardo Gonzalez, last year’s joint runner-up at Gardagolf and winner of the Open de Sevilla two weeks ago.
In addition to Gonzalez, five champions from The 2004 European Tour International Schedule will be in action, namely England’s Brian Davis, Sweden’s Joakim Haeggman and Christopher Hanell, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Germany’s Marcel Siem.
The Italian challenge will be led by Emanuele Canonica, Costantino Rocca and Alessandro Tadini, winner of the Costa Rica Open on the Challenge Tour in February, all of whom will be aiming to become the first home winner since Massimo Mannelli in 1980.
Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club, which opened in 1993, was designed by Arnold Palmer and will be hosting the Telecom Italia Open for the first time.
Telecom Italia are sponsoring the event for a third successive season. 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.