Edoardo and Francesco Molinari take centre stage on familiar ground this week, with the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi taking on extra significance for each brother for contrasting reasons.
While the €1.5million tournament is, of course, their national Open played in their home city of Turin, for Francesco it also represents his last competitive outing before The 2012 Ryder Cup, and for Edoardo a return to action following three months out with a wrist injury.
Francesco joins European team-mates Nicolas Colsaserts and Martin Kaymer in putting the finishing touches to their Ryder Cup preparations at Royal Park I Roveri, the latter two having also played in last week’s KLM Open where they finished tied for eighth and 21st place respectively.
The younger of the Molinari brothers, who won the Reale Seguros Open de España earlier this season, finished tied eighth last year in the tournament which provided his breakthrough victory in 2006.
Currently fourth in The Race to Dubai, Francesco has been in sparkling form in 2012 with seven other top ten finishes in addition to his victory, including a share of sixth place in his last European Tour appearance, at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Conversely, younger brother Edoardo, his partner at the last Ryder Cup two years ago, has endured a frustrating summer on the sidelines following an operation on a wrist tendon.
The two-time European Tour winner will be playing in his first tournament since the Nordea Masters at the start of June, and while he is not at 100 per cent in terms of fitness he will benefit from the home support.
Joining the Molinari brothers in the field will be former Ryder Cup player Costantino Rocca and teenager Matteo Manassero, representing Italian golf’s recent history and bright future.
Manassero, the youngest winner in European Tour history, finished tied eighth last year and he is looking forward to playing in front of the home galleries.
“As Italian players this is always a big event for us and we always look forward to it,” he said. “It is great fun for the crowd and great fun for us. I’ve played in three now and I really want to do well in it.
“I feel a little bit of added pressure but the support also really helps you. The course is one of the best in Italy. I know it well because I have played it many, many times, so I feel confident about doing well there.
“It is going to be a special week for us all. Everybody is looking forward to seeing Edoardo back and we will all be welcoming him again. Francesco has had an amazing year and he wants to do well before The Ryder Cup.”
The defending champion is Englishman Robert Rock, who last year finished one shot ahead of compatriot Gary Boyd and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who closed with a stunning ten under par 62 that included five birdies and an eagle in a remarkable outward nine of 29 strokes.
That was Rock’s maiden European Tour victory and he claimed his second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, holding off Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and more to claim the title in the UAE.