Last weeks golf
A second poor week in a row if truth be told, as 2/4 picks made the weekend, but neither Fisher or Zanotti threatened to place once they had both started their third rounds slowly. Frustratingly both had good stats for the week, with the Englishman finishing 2nd in the field for GIR and the Paraguayan ranking first for driving accuracy (DA), 11th for GIR and 20th for putts per green in regulation (PPGIR) – still, we move on to a fresh week, full of hope…..
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The Italian Open is into its 73rd edition and dates way back to 1925, making it one of the most historic golf tournaments hosted in mainland Europe. It has been an ever present on the European Tour since the tours inception in 1972 and this year returns to the Golf Club Milano for the second year running. Eighth occasion overall.
Rikard Karlberg became the fourth different Swedish golfer to win this event since 1998 when he lifted the trophy in 2015 whilst Ian Poulter, Gonzalo Fernandez Castano and Hennie Otto have both won two Italian Opens since the year 2000.
Despite being a nomadic event with many courses used over the years, the winning score is usually very low. Ten of the last sixteen winners between Poulter in 2000 and Karlberg last year hitting -19 or better.
This year the field is strong. Headlined by Ryder Cuppers Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Andy Sullivan, plus home hero Francesco Molinari and last weeks winner, Joost Luiten.
Golf Club Milano opened in 1928 and having been modernised (lengthened) in 1990 it now plays to a yardage of 7,156. The course plays to a par of 71 courtesy of three par five’s. The 1st, 9th, 14th – the 16th was a par 5 last year and played the 2nd easiest and appears to have been altered to a par 4 this time around. There are four par three’s all of which come inside the first two thirds of the course. Three of them measure over 200 yards and they played the 2nd, 5th and 8th toughest holes last year.
Being a parkland layout, it is pretty narrow in places with many fairways tree lined. However, only three of the top ten home last year finished better than 24th for DA. As you can see from the below stats section, scrambling and GIR were the two stand out vitals required for the week on a very packed leaderboard.
Thursday AM starters could get pretty wet. There is a 95% chance of rain, sometimes heavy – between 8am and midday. The wind will be minimal all week. Then, as we head into rounds two and three, conditions should get sunnier and warmer. Temperatures on Saturday PM reaching around the 26c mark. Sunday will see the rain return with a 50% chance of prolonged showers.
Last years Italian Open & Key Stats
1st – Rikard Karlberg (-19) – DA 63rd DD 45th GIR 9th PPGIR 15th Scrambles 14/18
2nd – Martin Kaymer (-19) – DA 24th DD 13th GIR 1st PPGIR 53rd Scrambles 16/18
T3 – Jens Fahrbring (-18) – DA 43rd DD 32nd GIR 29th PPGIR 4th Scrambles 25/35
T3 – Lucas Bjerregard (-18) – DA 50th DD 4th GIR 9th PPGIR 36th Scrambles 16/18
T3 – Matthew Fitzpatrick (-18) – DA 2nd DD 20th GIR 3rd PPGIR 48th Scrambles 10/13
T3 – Joakim Lagergren (-18) – DA 40th DD 37th GIR 52nd PPGIR 18th Scrambles 17/25
T3- David Lipsky (-18) – DA 28th DD 35th GIR 29th PPGIR 10th Scrambles 17/21
T3 – Danny Willett (-18) – DA 50th DD 8th GIR 19th PPGIR 28th Scrambles 14/20
T3 – Fabrizio Zanotti (-18) – DA 12th DD 33rd GIR 1st PPGIR 34th Scrambles 9/12
An opening round of 65 and closing round of 64 last time out during his European Masters crown in Crans. The Masters champion is showing signs of a return to form just at the right time. With the Ryder Cup and the Final Series around the corner, Willett will be keen to add to his growing trophy cabinet. A venue in which he finished T3 last year. I don’t usually back short odds golfers. Yet 18s was more than fair for a major winner who is long overdue another win.
The Ryder Cup theme continues as I found myself having to back Bristolian Chris Wood at 55/1 this week. This seasons BMW PGA championship winner likes a tree-lined course (think Wentworth, Austria, Singapore) and comes into this week having finished T59 in Holland last week and T49 in Crans previous. This might not sound too flashy, but his Wentworth win back in June followed a similar path of nothing to write about form and I can seem him going well this week as Hazeltine approaches.
Last seasons three-time winner Andy Sullivan comes into this week on the back of three MC’s. Down to issues in hitting the greens in the correct number. His putter appears to be behaving though and he should be buoyed by a closing round of 67 at Crans last time out in which he managed six birdies. Sulli is the third European Ryder Cupper I have selected this week. I believe they will be keen to find form ahead of the big team event starting in just over two weeks time.
The young South African gave this column its first pay back thanks to a 125/1 place in France. Yet, I was surprised the above price was quoted this week. Brandon flew up the leaderboard last week in Holland courtesy of a third round 63 and finished a T10, this despite a stone cold (sorry couldn’t resist) flat-stick which saw him finish 65/72 for PPGIR and 47/72 for putts per round (PPR). Hitting just shy of 80% of greens was a positive. Overall, he’s ready to challenge again for his second ET title of the season.
As shown above, there have been three multiple winners of the Italian Open since 2000. So, I thought I would include the Frenchman that finished T5 last time out in Crans. Last seen lifting a trophy aloft during the 2013 Italian Open. Quesne loves a tree lined track and his game reminds me a bit of last years victor, Rikard Karlberg. Julien challenged Chris Wood right to the bitter end at this years BMW PGA at Wentworth. Based on that, I reckon this layout will suit his eye.
First Round Leaders (FRL)
Fancies in this market will be posted on my Twitter handle @herefordrich once the draw has been completed.
Prices correct at time of writing.