Italian pioneer Rocca lauds Molinaris, Manassero

Costantino Rocca

Costantino Rocca has taken a back seat in the Italian golf world.

And he couldn’t be more pleased.

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Europe's Edoardo Molinari, left, and Francesco Molinari hold the trophy with an Italian flag after Europe won the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, Monday, Oct. 4, 2010.

With the emergence of brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari and teen Matteo Manassero, Rocca is no longer carrying Italy’s flag alone, as he did in the 1990s when he won five European Tour titles.

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Matteo Manassero

Rocca, 55, concedes his contribution to Italian golf has lagged in recent years. But after a 2010 season stained with nagging injuries, Rocca is hoping to add to his two European Senior Tour wins when the season resumes March 4 at the Brunei Senior Masters.

“I hope that these injuries are now over,” Rocca said. “I didn’t play well at all last year because I had a few small injuries that wouldn’t clear up to let me play my normal game.

“My shoulder gave me a lot of trouble last year, but it started to feel a bit better in Mauritius in December (T-9 in the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open), so I hope to continue from there.

“I have not been enjoying the game because I have been playing with some pain and have not been comfortable on the course, but I still believe that I can win tournaments on the Senior Tour if I can get over my injuries.”

The three-time Ryder Cupper has another motivation to win: “It would be great to start winning again to show the new boys that I can still do it,” Rocca said. “Seeing Edoardo and Francesco in the top 50 of the world, and also Matteo making such a good start to his career, is great news for Italian golf.

“It is different to when I was playing because I was on my own, but hopefully the boys can keep getting better and winning tournaments, and who knows? We might have three players in the top 50 this year.”

Edoardo Molinari said last year on the eve of the Ryder Cup that Rocca still inspires him.

“It was great fun to watch Europe win at Valderrama (in 1997) and to see Costantino’s 4-and-2 win over Tiger (Woods). All I know is that I wanted to play in the Ryder Cup from that moment,” the eldest brother said.

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