Betting market and overview
The Italian Open returns to Golf Club Milano for the seconnd year running. In 2015 the event proved to be a birdie fest, as 19 players finished on a score of -15 or better. Rikard Karlberg claimed the title after a playoff victory over this week's joint favourite Martin Kaymer - 13.00. Golf Club Milano is the home course of Marco Crespi who gave us some unique track insight ahead of last year's renewal but the venue played a lot easier than expected. Crespi repeatedly emphasised distance control from approaches as the premium here.
This rang true. In 2015, nine players finished in the top 3 and ties, and two of those - Martin Kaymer and Fabrizio Zanotti - tied for first in greens in regulation. The latter of the two looks a tempting proposition this week at 61.00 or 13.00 the place. Of these top nine players, Matt Fitzpatrick - 21.00 - was also third in GIR and two more were inside the top 10 in this stat for the week, with Lucas Bjerregaard and winner Rikard Karlberg ranking T9.
Along with Matt Fitz and Martin Kaymer, other Ryder Cuppers making the trip to Italy are Chris Wood - 51.00, Lee Westwood - 26.00, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett - 13.00 - and Rafa Cabrera Bello - 23.00. Home faves will include Matteo Mannassero - 101.0 - and the Molinari brothers, while Nino Bertasio - 126.0 - who was out in the final pairing last week at the KLM Open on Sunday - also tees it up. The prize fund of 3 million Euro this week is the biggest ever for the Italian Open.
The course - Golf Club Milano (Red and Yellow) par 71 - 7,156 yards
The Red and Yellow courses are in play and as mentioned, the premium at GCM is indeed on proximity and distance control, and as mentioned GIR% was the outstanding stat on the 2015 leaderboard. Marco Crespi described the "pure" greens here as "well-guarded", with some elevated, tiered, and incorporating severe slopes. According to Marco the rough is "punitive in places". It's a lush, woodland style track with strategic bunkering lining the fairways, and dog legs are a feature. Despite all this, driving accuracy wasn't a prominent theme on last year's leaderboard although all the leading players had a strong Total Driving ranking (distance and accuracy combined). Low scoring should be the brief.
Italian Open best betting tips
I'm very interested in Andy Sullivan this week at 51.00 or 11.00. Both he and Matt Fitz had a putt to make the cut in Crans. Fitz holed and Sullivan missed and the former went on to record a top 10. It could easily have been the other way around and Sullivan is 30pts bigger than his Ryder Cup team-mate in Italy. It's an interesting way to look at things but Andy Sullivan in this company at 51.00 is worth a bet on price alone. Sullivan is solid in every department of the game and Golf Club Milano should set up nicely for him.
I was a bit mystified by some of the opening prices on 2013 Italian Open champ Julien Quesne, albeit he claimed victory at Circolo Golf Torino. You can get a juicy 76.00 or 16.00 here at Unibet on the Frenchman who has returned to form. His top 5 finish last time out for him at the Omega Masters seems to have been overlooked somewhat. Quesne ranked 16th in greens in regulation and 2nd in putts per GIR up in Crans - Montana. Julien was also in contention at the BMW PGA Championship a couple of months back where he finished T4. Approach shot accuracy and distance control is also a key around Wentworth. Quesne owns recent top 25 and top 20 finishes at the Nordea Masters and Open De France respectively. The Frenchman hit 71.5% of GIR last season.
Alex Levy is another returning to form who looks overpriced this week at 101.0 or 21.00. Alex shot four rounds in the sixties at the treelined Crans-Sur-Sierre GC Track in Switzerland to post a top 20. He followed with a top 35 at the KLM Open which included a 2nd round 67. Levy is simmering nicely and can get himself into contention at a price if the putter behaves this week.