Tommy Fleetwood Lines-Up On Pole Position In Monza.

European No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood lines-up in pole position on the Monza tee looking to extend his Race to Dubai lead in this week’s Italian Open.

In making his way to the course Fleetwood, like many others, travel via the main gates of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and then make their way via tunnels under the main straight and then back straight to the emerge at the Milano Golf Club course neighbouring the circuit.

It was early last month fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton claimed a fourth Italian F1 Grand Prix and in the process moved one victory shy of matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of five Italian chequered flags.

Lewis Hamilton wins 2017 Italian Grand Prix early last month at Monza.

Fleetwood, already a double winner this season, leads the Race to Dubai by Euro 1.1m from Masters champion, Sergio Garcia who is contesting the event for the first time in his pro career.

And Garcia’s compatriot, Jon Rahm who also tees-up in Monza, is just Euro 37,398 adrift of Garcia and with each looking to emulate the European No. 1 feat of boyhood hero, Seve Ballesteros.

Fleetwood has six events totalling prizemoney of Euro 38.197, and including this week’s Euro 5.9m event, to lock-up the title and after the recent excitement of the birth of son, Frankie the mop-top Southport golfer is now focussing more on standing top of the Race to Dubai podium.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it or aiming to win it,” he said.

“I am in a very strong position but I’ve just got to keep concentrating week in, week out. That’s the thing you know, with such big events it’s not as if I can sort of hope that nobody plays well and I end up winning, so you’ve got to go out and play well.

“It’s a massive event with a lot of World Ranking points, so you are always looking to improve your world ranking and to improve as a golfer anyways, so there is always a lot to play for and hopefully I can keep going and keep playing well.”

It is the sharp increase in prize-money has attracted the likes of World No. 5 Rahm, the European Tour ‘Rookie of the Year elect’, along with Garcia.

It has taken Garcia 22-years and 167 Tour events to tee-up in a first Italian Open and 14-years after Ballesteros was unceremoniously disqualified for not accepting a ‘slow play’ penalty and in what was to be his last Italian Open near Lake Garda.

Bernie at the entrance to Monza Autodromo.

Ballesteros was early the next week handed an undisclosed fine for his Italian behaviour.

Returning to the Italian Open for a first occasion in 12-years is 2004 champion, Graeme McDowell.

McDowell captured a Euro 200,000 first prize cheque for Euro 200,000 in defeating Frenchman at the fourth extra play-off hole.

And there was an additional prize for McDowell of a nine-inch high, 18-inch cm wide and near 80 lb ‘wheel’ of Parmesan Cheese.

It prompted an Italian journalist at the time to remark:  “McDowell now has enough Parmesan Cheese for 25-years of Spaghetti Bolognaise.”

McDowell won the event on the Castello Tolcinasco course and about the same distance south of Milano that Monza is north of the city.

McDowell and Welsh-born Kimberley Stanworth were then an item and it is believed Stanworth, who McDowell had met on the 14th tee of the 2002 Wales Open and who then went onto marry football legend, Stan Ricketts, got half of the ‘wheel’.

McDowell returned to defend the 2005 Italian Open but missed the cut and since then he has not returned, not until this week.

And McDowell will be ‘on show’ over the first two days given he will partner European Ryder Cup Captain, Thomas Bjorn and no doubt looking to impress the Dane ahead of next year’s Ryder Cup.

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