|Diana Luna in Milan|
(MILAN, ITALY – Wednesday 14th October 2009) — Diana Luna is aiming to ride the wave of public support that she has received this week as she attempts to become the first home winner of the Carta Sì Ladies Italian Open.
The 26-year-old from Rome has made history this year as the first Italian to win two tournaments back to back and then to represent Europe at The Solheim Cup.
Now fourth on the Henderson Money List, Luna arrives in Milan in prime form and as the only multiple winner on the Ladies European Tour this year. She is fired up to earn her third victory of 2009 and the fourth of her seven-year career.
“Considering the results from this year of course I would like to win the tournament. I am not saying it’s going to be easy because there are a lot of good players playing in the tournament. I am going to have to fight for it,” admitted Luna, speaking at the exclusive Damiani jewellery boutique on a shopping trip to Milan’s fashion district.
“It has been a great year for me and the best year I’ve ever had. Winning two tournaments in a row was very special. It was the first time that an Italian won two tournaments in a row and the first time that an Italian played in The Solheim Cup. It’s a record year for me and I’m very, very happy about the way I’ve played and the way I was on the course. I enjoyed myself very much and honestly I’ve had a great year.”
Luna, who lives in Cannes, France, is hoping to close the gap on Becky Brewerton this week. The Welsh woman is just over €30,000 ahead in third place on the Henderson Money List. In first and second positions are Sophie Gustafson and Catriona Matthew respectively.
The 2009 AIB Ladies Irish Open and SAS Ladies Masters champion, Luna has been paired with Open de Espana Femenino winner Brewerton and excitable American Christina Kim for the first two rounds over Golf Club Le Rovedine.
Kim has received an invitation to play in the 108-woman event, which takes place over three rounds from Thursday 15th to Saturday 18th October.
On her first trip to Italy, Kim has already fallen in love with the country.
“It’s early in the week but so far it’s been absolutely fantastic,” she said. “Being able to come a few days early and visit, I spent Friday evening in Milan and went to Florence and Rome for a quick trip, just being able to immerse myself in the culture. It’s been fantastic. The history, the culture, the architecture, of all the buildings, it drips with culture and it’s just beautiful. I would love to retire here, in Italy, when I’m done.”
She added that she would probably retire in one of the buzzing cities, such as Milan or Rome, where she could indulge her love of designer shopping.
Having played the par 72, 6338 yard long course for the first time on Tuesday after strong winds forced the closure of the course on Monday, Kim was impressed with the test that she will face.
The two-time winner on the US LPGA Tour added: “I’ve never been to Italy before and so I’m very excited to see what the golf course is going to be like come tournament time and seeing all the great golfers that they have here in Europe and maybe seeing what some of the passionate Italian spectators are like.”
There are seven former Italian Open winners in the field, including Laura Davies. The greatest English female golfer of all time is a four time winner of the Italian Open, having won the event on different golf courses in 1987, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
The other former champions playing are England’s Trish Johnson (2007), Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (2006), Denmark’s Iben Tinning (2002 and 2005), Spain’s Paula Marti (2001) and England’s Samantha Head (1999).
Le Rovedine, located 10 minutes outside the city, hosted the men’s Italian Open in 1995, won by Sam Torrance, but is hosting the Ladies European Tour for the first time.
With a field of 108, a cut will be made to the leading 50 professionals and ties on Friday evening and the final round will be played on Saturday. With a purse of €200,000, the winner will take home a €30,000 first prize.