European Tour golf returns to Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel, on tomorrow with the 2017 Rocco Forte Open. As announced in April, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn has confirmed his place in the line-up for the Rocco Forte Open. The 46-year-old Dane, who will lead Europe’s bid to regain the Ryder Cup in Paris next September, spoke to us about Ryder Cup, challenges in playing the Verdura golf course this week, and something about Italy and staying at the resort.
How have you found life as the European Ryder Cup captain in the first few months?
It has been great! Naturally my role as captain means that I am very busy and travelling a lot, it’s very exciting. As the European Ryder Cup will be held in Paris in September 2018, the preparations have already started, and I am spending lots of time out in France at Le Golf National, working closely with the club to ensure everything will be in pristine condition ahead of the Cup.
What key factors led to you confirming your place for the Rocco Forte Open?
It is an amazing opportunity to visit Verdura Resort, experience Sicily, and to play on the magnificent Kyle Phillips courses that are in an impressive setting, nestled right into the coast of the Mediterranean. I have heard so many good things about Verdura Resort, from my fellow players, in particular the Italian players like Matteo Manassero and Renato Paratore who have had the honour of playing there before.
The golf courses at Verdura Resort were designed by Kyle Phillips and provide a challenging test for all golfers. What do you think will be essential to low scores during the tournament?
The courses are challenging which makes the anticipation for playing them even greater! As we will be so close to the Mediterranean Sea, we will need to take the wind factor into consideration. Fair weather would also be preferable to keep scores low!
What are you most looking forward to about visiting Verdura Resort for the Rocco Forte Open, other than the golf?
As with every time I go to Italy, the food and coffee is what I look forward to most! I have heard a lot about the restaurants at Verdura and I am very excited to try them, especially Amare. It will be great to have in the sun shining all week as I like to play in warm weather – a rare occurrence in Northern Europe! I am also really looking forward to trying out the award winning spa – after a long day on the course, it looks like it will be the perfect spot to reinvigorate before the next day’s game.
How many times have you been to Italy? What do you like about it as a travel destination?
I have been to Italy several times – I love the country, the food, the culture. My last trip was to Rome, and we were on holiday so I had the chance to see much more than what we normally do when we´re playing in a tournament. What a city!
You do a lot of travelling, what items would you never travel without?
I never travel without my Rolex watch, phone, ipad and headphones.