Garcia Ends 22-Year, 266-Event Drought To Line-Up On Monza Starting Grid.

In what will surely be an Italian warm welcome, Masters Champion Sergio Garcia will line-up on the starting grid for this week’s Italian Open in Monza.

It will be the reigning Masters Champion’s first appearance in the event some 22-years after he made his pro debut and on the occasion also of his 267th European Tour event.

The Milano Golf Club course is located adjacent the famed Monza Autodrome where just over a month ago Lewis Hamilton captured a fourth Italian Formula One Grand Prix to move within one Italian victory of matching Michael Schumacher’s record haul.

In fact, Garcia’s drive to the golf course can take him through the circuit’s front gates before turning right and travelling under both the front straight and back straight of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Aerial view of the Monza circuit and the surrounded by the Milano Golf Club course.

Bernie at the entrance to the Monza Autodrome.

 

What has helped encourage Garcia and the likes of Spanish compatriot, Jon Rahm along with double Dunhill Links champion, Tyrrell Hatton plus past Masters winners, Danny Willett and Jose Maria Olazabal and current European No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood and other Major winners in Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, journey to Monza is the now $US 7m prize purse and double the amount on offer a year ago.

“Obviously it’s a nice stretch with playing here in Italy and Spain next week, our tournament with my foundation,” Garcia said.

“I’ve never played in Italy as a professional so I’m excited about it. I’ve played here many times as an amateur. I’ve heard good things about it so I’m very excited to have a nice week here. Amazing weather, and the food, so it’s all good.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia ends a 22-year absence to conest a first Italian Open.

“The weather is very similar to Spain, food is very good like in Spain and even the looks of the towns is similar to where I grew up.”

The Italian Open was first staged in 1925 and enjoys a rich history of Spanish-born winners including Ramon Sato (1971),  Angel Gallardo (1977), Jose Maria Canizares (1981), Manuel Pinero (1985) and more-recently Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (2007).

Sadly, the Italian Open was one tournament the late, great Seve Ballesteros never managed to get onto his golfing CV.

He first contested the event in 1975 and earning Euro 1,680 in finishing fifth but then he played his last Italian Open in 2003 but ending in controversial circumstances when he was slapped with a one-stroke penalty for slow play late in a round.

The Milano Golf Cllub at Monza.

Milano Golf Club and layout of the course.

Ballesteros refused to add the penalty to his scorecard and leaving Chief Referee, John Paramor no option but to disqualify him while early the next week Ballesteros was slapped with an unknown fine by the Mark James led Tournament Players Committee for his heated remarks to the media soon after the disqualification.

The World No. 11 ranked Garcia will be looking not only for a first ‘regular’ European victory in some 21 months but also continue to bridge the now Euro 1,108,040 gap between his second place Race to Dubi standing and Fleetwood who continues to lead the title chase.

“You can see by the quality of the field that it’s extremely good,” said Garcia.”

“So, with just a few events left it is going to be exciting all the way to Dubai.”

And should Garcia not win this week there is still the goal of duplicating Ballerestos in becoming European No. 1 after Seve won the title first in 1980 and then again in 1988 and 1991.

 

 



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