Lorenzo Scalise will draw on the memories from last year’s play-off defeat in his quest for a maiden European Challenge Tour victory in this week’s Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil.
Scalise tasted defeat to Matthew Jordan in the 2019 edition of the Italian Challenge and will tee it up at Golf Club Castelconturbia this week with a renewed sense of optimism having evaluated the state of his game recently.
The 25-year-old, who finished as the low-amateur at the 2017 Italian Open, came 30th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings in 2019, mainly thanks to his second place at Terre Dei Consoli Golf Club following the play-off defeat to Jordan.
“I’ve always liked to play on home soil and I’ve always done pretty well,” he said. “Obviously last year I lost in the play-off and I’ve also played well in the Italian Open in the past. A lot of people say it adds pressure to play in your own country but that actually boosts me, I really like it.
“The play-off was a very good experience for me. I did not have a very good category on the Challenge Tour and that was a week that really changed the year.
“Even though I didn’t win, it was a big event so it helped me a lot. Most of all, it helped me understand that I have the game to win on the Challenge Tour and I took that feeling into the rest of the season and ended up finishing in the top 30 on the Rankings, which was a good rookie year.”
Scalise lives just an hour away from this week’s venue and believes a combination of past experience and local knowledge could give him an edge over the rest of the field.
“My game is feeling much better,” he said. “I’ve actually struggled the last couple of weeks but I feel like taking time off at home these last couple of weeks was a really good idea. The game is feeling much better. I know how to play this golf course.
“It was just a matter of finding a good rhythm on the course. Not just swing-wise, but also in the routine, the pre-shot routine, and a little bit outside the golf course as well. I feel like I’m in a better place at the moment and I’m in much more control of the golf ball, which is always nice.
“You need to be very accurate off the tee. I think that’s going to set you up with a lot of wedges into these greens. The greens are pretty undulated with some small areas so you’ve got to have good distance control. I feel like that’s a strong part of my game, being pretty good with those wedges.
“I’ve not really got any expectations because it’s a weird year. If I win this week it’s going to feel good, but it’s not going to change anything in terms of categories. I just want to go out and play good golf.”
The Challenge Tour has strict protocols in place to ensure the safe return to golf following a period of inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Scalise has been impressed by the Tour’s work and grateful for the opportunity to compete.
“It feels good to be back,” he said. “The Tour has done an incredible job. I spoke to Jamie Hodges [Head of Challenge Tour] at The Belfry and I was telling him it was just so good.
“I wasn’t expecting to play in as many events as I have. I was lucky to be able to play on the European Tour after the lockdown, due to my category, but to be able to play, see the other guys and compete, it feels really good after such a long time off.”
Scalise will get his first round under way at 9.55am local time on Thursday alongside four-time European Tour winner Marcel Siem and Northern Ireland Open supported by The R&A champion Tyler Koivisto.