Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Italian Open 2014

We have another weakish European Tour event this week, to be played at the Circolo Golf Torino where prizemoney stretches to €1.5M. Julien Quesne will defend his title on the course that hosted for the first time twelve months ago but he will have plenty of home challengers again this time round. The Molinari brothers will be keen to add their National Open Title (Francesco won it back it 2006) to their locker and obviously head the market along with Ryder Cup hopeful, Stephen Gallacher who will secure his place should he win or come second here this week.

That's his incentive and although he didn't play too well last week in Prague, Stephen will or should take the positive that he did eventually finish T7th. A better weekend this time round might just see him book his place at Gleneagles. As a Scotsman, he's here this week to give himself every chance of making that team. He's still available @ 20/1 for this and given the depth of the field I think he's worth chancing. From his 17 starts on Tour this season, Gallacher has produced 7 TOP10s, including a WIN in Dubai last February. He has missed just 3 cuts, 2 of which were at Majors (the other in Ireland the week after Pinehurst), but he has decent form notably 15th at Hoylake and a TOP20 at Golf National. He also lost a playoff at The Nordea Masters, was TOP5 at Wentworth and produced a 6th placing at Doral and a TOP35 at Augusta. If he can handle some of those pressures, he can handle the pressure that's before him this week in his quest for Ryder Cup participation. He will be encouraged by Jamie Donaldson and Hunter Mahan securing their places last week by winning and despite not having played at The Italian Open since 2009 I think he can put in a bold effort here where low scoring will be the order of the day.

I have tipped Matteo Manassero a couple of times this season to no avail despite decent enough form. He tees it up this week on the back of a missed cut at Valhalla, so he should be fresh and ready to go and to build on the TOP20 outing at Hoylake prior to the PGA. He was also T4th alongside Gallacher at Royal Aberdeen the week previously so he's playing decent enough. He finished way down the leaderboard twelve months ago here with a horrific closing 76 when very much in contention after the third round. I'm going to ignore that final round and suggest the other three rounds were good enough to enter this year's instalment in good hope. He did, of course finish 3rd in his home Open in 2012 and was 8th in 2011. He produced two further TOP30s in the two years prior. He is still only 21 years old and having won on tour each of the last 3 years, I wouldn't be surprised if he can continue his annual returns by winning here this week.  At 28/1 this week he'll go close.

I want to keep the faith with Tommy Fleetwood again this week also. He grabbed me some place money last week, albeit it in share for reduced stakes. In my preview for the Czech Masters I had indicated that the draw might work in his favour with an early start Friday starting on the 10th....it worked out perfectly but perhaps I should have elaborated in my preview that he could back that 2nd rd. up with two similar rounds the weekend ! Tommy will be happy with that result last week and having finished in the TOP5 after so many missed cuts in recent weeks, Circolo Golf Torino should suit with the Par 5s again being Tommy's best chance of scoring. His putting prevents him from challenging more often but he's improving and keeps giving himself chances. I'm giving him a chance this week @ 50/1.

Staking Plan

2 pts e/w S. Gallacher @ 20/1
1 pt e/w M. Manassero @ 28/1
0.75 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 50/1

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