Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
A Rolex Series Event

Lee Westwood admits it will take a strong performance to capture the Italian Open this week, with a star-studded field gathered at Golf Club Milano.

Former World Number One Westwood arrives in Milan in decent form, having claimed a share of third at the KLM Open and then finishing 15th at the British Masters presented by Sky Sports, having dealt with the added pressure of being tournament host for the latter.

However, some of the world's best players have gathered for the latest Rolex Series event, including Masters Tournament winner Sergio Garcia, his compatriot Jon Rahm and Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Westwood was paired with eventual winner Francesco Molinari over the first two rounds 12 months ago and expects the home favourite to contend again, but the 44 year old is also keen to get his own name on the trophy.

"They've managed to get a lot of quality players here," - Lee Westwood

"The Italian Open is a trophy that's been going a long time and I think everybody on the tour would like to win it - I've never won it and it's high on my priorities," Westwood said. "It feels like a big tournament.

"I enjoyed this course last year even though I missed the cut, and the weather is going to be a lot better.

"I think it's a course that's right up Francesco's street so he'll take some beating having the home crowds behind him, but it's a very strong field. They've managed to get a lot of quality players here and the field is very strong in depth so it will be a tough tournament to win."

Despite admitting that playing tournament host at Close House may have affected his game, Westwood says he would be happy to take on the role again.

"I thought it went really well," he added. "The feedback I've had from players and from crowds that came along and the Tour, everybody seemed to enjoy it and think that it was a success.

"It should be a good challenge this week," - Tyrrell Hatton

"It was nice to see the tournament back in the north and that's something to do in the future, mix it up around the country, and it was very positive and I enjoyed hosting it as well... I'd like to do it again.

"There was far more to do than I would do normally, so I didn't have much time to practice; it was nice to tee off and concentrate on golf for five hours a day rather than worry about car parks and badges for people and stuff like that. I really enjoyed it."

Westwood's compatriot Tyrrell Hatton also enters the event in good spirits, having successfully defended his Alfred Dunhill Links title at St Andrews last week.

"It was an incredible feeling, nice walking up 18 with a three-shot lead," he said. "I was very happy. It should be a good challenge this week."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HATTON, TyrrellENG18-21
T2FISHER, RossENG18-20
T2APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-20
4WALLACE, MattENG18-19
5FRASER, MarcusAUS18-18
T6HORSEY, DavidENG18-17

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