Costantino Rocca will hope to round off a vintage year for Italian golf with a popular home victory in this week’s Sicilian Senior Open, the penultimate event of the 2010 European Senior Tour season.
Following the Ryder Cup success of the Molinari brothers and the emergence of teenager Matteo Manassero, as well as Alessandro Tadini’s triumph on the Challenge Tour, the stage is set for the Godfather of Italian golf to remind the world of his own undoubted talent.
Having inspired the new generation to their considerable achievements, Rocca’s attention is now firmly focused on his own game, as he tries to seal a place in the top 42 on the Order of Merit to guarantee a spot in the season finale, the OKI Castéllon Senior Tour Championship.
The 53 year old former Ryder Cup player, who famously defeated Tiger Woods in the Singles at Valderrama in 1997, has only managed one top ten finish in a season affected by a shoulder injury but a second round 68 in last week’s Benahavis Senior Masters suggested a return to form could be imminent.
He hopes that II Picciolo Golf Club and the spectacular backdrop of Mount Etna will provide the perfecting setting to achieve that.
“It will be the first time I’ve been to this course but it is nice have an Italian Seniors event back on the Senior Tour Schedule,” said Rocca. “Hopefully we can play in Sicily for the next three years. It is very important for me and for the Italian people to have a Senior Tour event.
“It’s a nice place Sicily and a nice region and hopefully we will have a good week. I need to do well in Sicily and finish the season well. The shoulder and finger are still sore but hopefully they won’t stop me from playing well.”
Also in the field is Englishman Carl Mason who has another opportunity to capture a record breaking 24th Senior Tour title and become the outright most prolific winner in Senior Tour history.
Mason is currently tied with Tommy Horton on 23 victories and is in good form having finished sixth in the Cannes Mougins Masters and joint runner-up in last week’s Benahavis Senior Masters.
The man he tied with, John Gould, will have another opportunity to seal his playing rights for next year having moved up to 44th in the Order of Merit.
Meanwhile with Boonchu Ruangkit absent due to a neck injury, South African Chris Williams will be hoping to gain his first Senior Tour win and close the gap at the top of the Order of Merit, which Ruangkit extended with his win in Spain last week. It is the Senior Tour’s first visit to Italy since 2008 when Peter Mitchell captured the title in Lake Garda.