Rocca's 2022 Ryder Cup hopes for Italian golf
Italy’s first Ryder Cup player, Costantino Rocca, believes The 2022 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone offers a big opportunity to develop golf in his home country.
Today marks 1000 days until Italy hosts The Ryder Cup for the first time, becoming the seventh European nation after England, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Wales and France to host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States.
Rocca was a trailblazer for Italian golf on the global stage during the 1990s, becoming the first Italian player to represent Europe in the contest at The Belfry in 1993.
He also featured in the victorious European team in 1995 at Oak Hill Country Club – two months after finishing runner-up in The Open Championship at St Andrews – and again at Valderrama in Spain in 1997, when he famously defeated a 21 year old Tiger Woods.
The Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, then followed in his footsteps when they were part of the European victory at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010, while Francesco went on to star in the famous comeback victory in Medinah in 2012 and at Le Golf National in France two years ago, when he became the first European player to win a maximum five points from his five matches.
That latter record-breaking performance, achieved while Molinari was the reigning Open Champion, has helped boost excitement in Italy ahead of the country hosting its first Ryder Cup from September 30 to October 2, 2022.
With 1000 days to go until the golf’s greatest team competition heads to Rome, Rocca believes hosting The Ryder Cup can have a big impact on golf in his country.
“It is very important for us to take this opportunity to develop golf in Italy,” said Rocca. “We need to show people in Italy that golf is a sport that can be played and enjoyed by everyone.”
Rocca is also optimistic that further Italians can succeed him and the Molinari brothers as Ryder Cup players, with a promising new generation of talent emerging, including Andrea Pavan and Guido Migliozzi, both of whom have now won twice on the European Tour.
“It is something that everyone wants to do – play in The Ryder Cup at least one time,” said the 63 year old. “When you play in a tournament it is only for you, but in The Ryder Cup you have the spectators and your team.
“We have some very good young guys and I hope they keep their feet on the ground and work hard.”
Marco Simone, which is on the outskirts of the Italian capital Rome, is currently undergoing an extensive renovation programme in preparation for hosting golf’s greatest team contest.
European Golf Design is responsible for the redesign project, creating a world-class golf course inside the ropes, in addition to a purpose-built venue outside the ropes to allow spectators to view The 2022 Ryder Cup from as many natural vantage points as possible.
Nine holes have already been reconstructed and are now in the growing phase, while the second phase of the project, comprising the construction of the remaining nine holes, is due to be completed by May, allowing growing to take place over the summer. Alongside the work to the course, the clubhouse and practice facilities will also be fully refurbished, to allow Marco Simone to host the Italian Open in autumn 2021.