Rose and Willett gunning for more Rolex Series glory

Justin Rose and Danny Willett will both be going in search of a Rolex Series hat-trick this week at the Italian Open as part of a world class field gathered at Olgiata Golf Club.

Justin Rose

Both men have had to overcome adversity in their careers but any negative thoughts will be a long way away in the beautiful setting on the outskirts of Rome.

Rose missed his first 21 cuts after turning professional but has overcome that early setback to rise to be Europe and the world's Number One, win a Major, an Olympic Gold Medal and two Rolex Series titles at the Turkish Airlines Open.

A third Rolex Series victory could provide a platform for a tilt at Race to Dubai glory, and he cannot think of many better places to play golf.

"They are a highlight on my calendar in terms of when I'm preparing my schedule," said Rose of the Rolex Series.

Justin Rose

"I look at all the important tournaments around the world and try to make sure I'm ready and prepared for them. Rolex Series are in that category.

"The next month for me is really, really important and I feel like I'm in a position where I have to win probably two or three events between now and Dubai to challenge the leaders but it's possible."

He added: "There's always style and just something different about being in Italy. 

"I enjoy the off course as much as the on course and I'm going to stay for a couple of days in Rome after the tournament. Very rarely would I make that time at a tournament to stay after, in fact, never, really. So it just speaks of Rome and speaks of Italy that you try to make that time to really enjoy the country."

Willett finished third on his Italian Open debut in 2015 and his second placed result in 2016 was his best finish between his Masters Tournament victory and his triumph at the 2018 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Willett with the BMW PGA Championship trophy

In the time between those results, Willett dropped outside of the top 400 in the Official World Golf Ranking but, after a second Rolex Series win at the BMW PGA Championship, the Englishman is back in the top 50.

And he is relishing another challenge at a blue riband event where he has an excellent record, having finished eighth last season.

"They've given it another tier within the tournaments," he said of the Rolex Series. "You've got your Majors and your World Golf Championships and there's always been amazing events that the European Tour have put on and this just separates it a bit more."

He added: "I've always had pretty good crowd interaction out here. I've had some pretty good groups, I've played with Frankie (Molinari) a lot out here and gone close a couple of times at Monza. 

"All the fans here love their golf and they're really passionate about sport and we get to play some pretty cool venues so hopefully we can have more of the same. It's a pretty cool place."

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