Giulia Sergas from northern Italy will hope to be at the head of affairs in her homeland when the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open gets under way from Friday.  

Sergas is the highest ranked Italian player in the field of 108 competitors at Il Picciolo Golf Club in Castiglione di Sicilia after European

View of Etna from Il Picciolo Golf Club

number four Diana Luna withdrew on the eve of the tournament for family reasons.

The 31-year-old Sergas  from Trieste, currently 29th on the Henderson Money List after eight appearances on the Ladies European Tour in 2011, starts the week in a rich vein of form on the back of three top-ten finishes in Ireland, Austria and France. She also tied for 11th at the Navistar LPGA Classic in the United States last month.

Having plied her trade on the LPGA Tour for the last seven years, she is making a return to European Tour action to support the tournament, which is the last event of the 2011 schedule to be played on European soil.

She will also look to win her first Tour event in nine years as a professional after a sterling season which included a tie for second at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open in February.

I feel good. It’s been a long time as we haven’t played in Italy since 2009 and I’m also back in Europe so for me there is more than just the Italian Open,” said Sergas, who bases herself in Palm Springs, California.  

“It’s been a different year for me, definitely. I spent much of my year in the United States, so it’s really good to be here and to be finally in Italy. I’m excited because I see a lot of new faces and it’s good to eat really good food. I don’t take it differently, I really don’t because I shouldn’t, because I love the game and each time I play.”

Ninth green and hotel at Il Picciolo Golf Club

Sergas tied for 20th at the 1996 Italian Open di Sicilia as an amateur and is enjoying her time back on the island: It’s a fantastic region with a lot of history. For me, being in Sicily, playing the Italian Open, is also being in Sicily and visiting a different culture. It is kind of different from where I’m from so I’m really pleased.”

Il Picciolo Golf Club features particularly tight, tree-lined fairways set on a hilly landscape next to Mount Etna. Sergas felt that accuracy off the tee and staying patient would be important.  

You can score really high; you can score really low. You don’t know when you start. It’s so tiny, so little, you don’t really know what is going to happen. I’m playing really good and putting really good so in a normal length of golf course I would be happy to go and ready but here you’ve got to think on every single shot.

“As we know emotion plays a big role in golf and it’s tricky. It’s really, really, tricky, so I’m not thinking about winning and I’m not thinking about playing under par. I’m just thinking about not getting crazy on this golf course because it can get you really crazy.”

There are 14 Italian players in the field including five amateurs, Stefania Croce, Sophie Sandolo and Veronica Zorzi, all of whom will be hoping to seize the trophy from Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord, won the event in 2009 in Milan.