Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Italian Open 2016



The 73rd staging of this week's Italian Open takes place at Golf Club Milano where Sweden's Rikard Karlberg will defend his title having seen off Martin Kaymer twelve months ago on this very course. The German returns again and leads probably the strongest field ever assembled for the Italian Open where OWGR Strength of Field points are set to increase by almost 50% from previous years. With most eyes now focusing on the Ryder Cup in a few weeks, it's interesting to see so many of the European team teeing it up here. Kaymer, Willett, Westwood, Fitzpatrick, Cabrera-Bello,Wood and Sullivan are all in attendance as they try to gain much needed form. I'm sure they'll be hanging around each other's company too this week. It's a critical week in my opinion for Andy Sullivan as he tries to make a cut having missed his last three. If personal problems do exist in the background then a poor week may see the very likable lad play a minor role for Darren Clarke later this month.Clarke's vice-captain, Harrington will be keeping a close eye the first two days.

The Course

Golf Club Milano is an old course dating back to 1928 and can be considered a "traditional/technical" course where the fairways will be tree-lined emphasizing accuracy from tee to green although last years statistics indicated that the approach shot was the key factor rather than finding the fairways. Undulating fairways and slow greens with the rough not as penal was to what players have been experiencing of late, will be welcome to a lot of players as they either hone their game for Ryder Cup or the Fall Series, or make their move towards a TOP110 in the OOM. Whilst 2-time Major Champion, Kaymer and the current Masters champ are in the field, a case can be made for many at the top of the market such is the competitiveness this week. If Kaymer can eliminate Sunday blues that have crept into his game the past eighteen months, he is definitely the man to beat having finished 2nd in Italy last year and 5th in 2012. 

The Shortlist

I couldn't reduce my shortlist any further this week and rested at 16 players. Of course not all on that list represent value in the outright betting in my opinion but the focus really is on the TOP10 and more so the TOP20 markets. Last weeks KLM Open winner, should have been a bet though, he was marked as a value bet on the shortlist and was a regular tip this season on the blog. Luiten has more TOP20s than anyone else on tour this season with 12 from his 19 starts of which 9 are TOP10, yet there's no place for him on the European Ryder Cup team. I expect him to produce another one here and @ 2.10 for a TOP20 finish, he will have his supporters. When looking at the leading contenders here,I've asked myself if Kaymer is value @ 15.00 to win over Willett (19.00) An (19.00) Fitzpatrick (23.00) Bello (23.00), Westwood (26.00) and indeed Luiten (23.00) and concluded that he is even though I had my tissue at 17.00. A proven winner, in solid form of late, Kaymer returns to European action where his class should tell. He plays alongside Willett and Fitzpatrick the first two days with an afternoon tee time and should he get a solid opening round under him he could be the man for the title this week. I may get involved Thursday afternoon if the price is tempting.  If Willett is to partner Lee Westwood at Hazeltine, I can see the young Fitzpatrick playing fourballs with Kaymer so the grouping should be hot this week. The youngster can go on to be a regular winner on tour and compete in Majors but at present its hard to tell which Matty Fitzpatrick will show up any given week. At the odds, I'll pass again.

Jaco Van Zyl could be a contender this week despite being suspect on Sunday afternoons. There are a number of the leading protagonists this week in the same category though, so there's every chance he could fall across the line at some point. He has been very consistent this season, as well as persistent in what he wants to do schedule wise, and a TOP10/20 is not a tall ask this week. The 3.00 about a TOP20 seems very achievable here. The South African has an excellent Italian Open pedigree in finishing TOP15 twelve months ago and 16th and 10th back in 2013 & 2012. He arrives here having finished 6th in Denmark and 19th in the Czech Republic following what was to him an honourable achievement to represent his country at The Olympics last month. 8 TOP20s from his 15 starts shows his level of consistency this season (3 TOP10s).

I've backed Tommy Fleetwood the last two tournaments and his results have been progressive finishing TOP10 last week in Holland. He had a poorish weekend scoring wise but his GIR stats were encouraging and it could be just a matter of finding the bottom of the cup with the putter that is all that is required to capture his second title and I'm not about to abandon him just yet. He's available at Betfair at 75.00 to win which is a certainly worth taking and the 7.00 for a TOP10 cannot be passed up on either.

As with Fleetwood and Luiten, the blog has also tried to cash in on Nicolas Colsaerts a few times this season and this week could be the week to try again. If GIR stats are to be key again this week then Nico has a chance on a course that yielded him a TOP20 twelve months ago and a tournament that saw him finish 4th in 2013, 5th in 2012 & 3rd in 2010. He must like the place or the pizza! He arrives on the back of consecutive 24th place finishes the past two weeks, boasts strong GIR stats being ranked 14th on tour, and can deliver here. At 55.00 for the outright and 3.25 for TOP20, he's a must for me this week.

Finally, two players highlighted on the shortlist that could have a good week are Romain Wattel and Thorbjorn Olesen. The Dane though has gone off the boil, but could just show up and play any given week so I'm happy to play him in the TOP20 market @ 6.00. He has 7/17 this season already. The Frenchman has solid results in Italy the last three years; TOP10 on the course last year and 11th & 8th the previous two years. At 5.00 for a TOP20 he is included.


Selections:

0.5 pts T. Fleetwood @ 75.00
2.0 pts T. Fleetwood TOP10 @ 7.00
0.5 pts N. Colsaerts @ 55.00
2.5 pts N. Colsaerts TOP20 @ 3.25
3.00 pts J. Van Zyl TOP20 @ 3.00
2.00 pts T. Olesen TOP20 @ 6.00
2.00 pts R. Wattel TOP20 @ 5.00