Clark Dennis will aim to win the Senior Italian Open for a third-straight year when he tees it up at Villaverde Resort from May 30- June 1.
The American secured his maiden Staysure Tour victory at the mountainside course in 2017 when he holed a long putt to defeat Australian Peter Fowler in a play-off. It was a win that propelled him to new heights, as he went on to top the Order of Merit and claim Rookie of the Year honours.
As defending champion last year, Dennis found himself two shots back with only one hole left in the tournament, but a bogey from playing partner Rafael Gomez, and some late heroics from Dennis in the form of a lengthy birdie putt, sent the two men to a play-off, where the then 52-year-old again came out on top.
Now, Dennis will look to become the first player to win the same Staysure Tour event in three consecutive years since Colin Montgomerie won the Travis Perkins Masters in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“You always feel good when you come to a course you’ve won on twice,” he said. “I’ve only played here twice, and I’ve won twice. It gives you the confidence to know you can do it.
“I have great memories here from the last two years, making great putts on the last hole. One in the play-off in 2017 and one to get into the play-off last year, so it’s always nice to come back to somewhere like this.
“Villaverde is a great place. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a stunning view as you look out over the hotel, the golf course is beautiful— it’s a great place to be.”
While the pursuit of a third-straight Senior Italian Open title is a tantalising one, Dennis understands that golf is not always so straightforward.
“The course does suit me, so if I play well I’ll have a chance,” he pointed out. “But it’s like any other week. Golf is a funny game, you don’t really know how you’re going to play. One week you’re a champ, and the next week you’re a chump, but I feel comfortable here.”
Dennis will also have stiff competition to overcome if he is to secure a third trophy at Villaverde Resort.
Two Welshmen, Phillip Price and Stephen Dodd, have a strong track-record at Villaverde Resort. Dodd, a three-time winner on the Staysure Tour, claimed his first over-50s title when the Senior Italian Open was first played at the host-venue in 2016.
Price finished one shot behind Dodd in second place, and then last year, in his second appearance at Villaverde Resort, missed out on the Dennis-Gomez play-off by the same single-shot margin.
“It doesn’t feel like the golf course suits my game, but I think it does, so hopefully I can do one better this year,” Price said.
The opening round of the Senior Italian Open begins tomorrow at 12:00 pm local time from the first and tenth tees with Dennis set to begin his pursuit of a third-straight title at 12:40 off of the tenth.