The Golf Club Milano, which is in the beautiful setting of the Parco Reale di Monzo, literally next door to the Monza racetrack, plays host to the Italian Open and John Rahm (7/1) is the early frontrunner in the betting stakes. Last year's winner, Francesco Molinari is an attractive-looking 16/1, but who'll top this star-studded field and race off into the sunset with the glory?
Our man takes a break from his fuel-stop and gives us his picks 'n' tips in his preview, below:
ITALIAN OPEN | SS Golf 12th Oct: 06:50
Favourite: Jon Rahm 7/1
TOURNAMENT & COURSE OVERVIEW
This picturesque Parkland course was founded back in 1928 and this will be the third straight year the Golf Club Milano hosts the Italian Open, which is now part of the Rolex Series, ensuring a strong field throughout.
The course was originally designed by James Peter Ganon and the par 71, 7,156-yarder retains many of the original features, with narrow fairways and Poa/Bentgrass greens. The course, being parkland is tree-lined and undulates, but it is relatively flat when compared with other courses on the tour. There is also relatively little 'rough' to speak of, which usually sees low scores; precision and concentration being the key words here.
In fact, who better than reigning champ Molinari to describe how to play the course?
“It’s a course that allows you to be quite aggressive,” he continued. “There is a premium on hitting fairways because the greens are very small targets. “It’s not too long so you can create quite a lot of birdie opportunities and then that obviously all comes down to the putting."
There is some debate about which is the 'signature' hole, with the 8th, 13th and 16th all vying for the title. However, sixteen probably steals the glory: its a 489-yard par-four with a narrow fairway that demands precision. It's idyllic setting often lulls players into making mistakes, and concentration needs to remain focused, lest one fall by the wayside!
PRIZE POOL: €5,950,610, with the winner taking home €990,399 and 990,399 Race to Dubai points!
WEATHER: Cloudy on Friday, but sun, sun, sun otherwise! Light breezes of 5/6km and mild humidity ensure near-perfect weather conditions for the golf.
Dubuisson the victor in Milan?!
Much is being made of Jon Rahm's chances here, but it all honesty he's far too short (in our opinion) on a course that may not suit his style of play. The fairways are tight, the legs dogged and despite his brilliance at 7/1 there are too many question marks against his adaptability here for us to be comfortable with. If you like backing the favourites, then he's certainly the best player on show, but there's better value for our money, in our eyes, so we're steering clear.
Instead, first up we'll take another look at the perennial under-achiever, Victor Dubuisson. We tipped the 27-year-old Frenchman for the British Masters (here) and ended up with more than a little egg on our faces. However, his third last week at the Alfred Dunhill has brought him to the forefront of our thinking again. T12 at the Portugal Masters and this fitter and leaner, rather more determined looking golfer certainly has the tools to master this course. He's burnt us before, no doubt will do so again, but we'll take another punt, especially with the 60/1 odds on offer.*
Players in form can never be discounted, which is why are our eyes are the 36-year-old Ross Fisher, who finished seventh here in 2014. His course record 61 (11 under par) at St. Andrews will see the English golfer absolutely bouncing. That top-10 finish (his seventh of the season) saw him rise to sixth in the Race to Dubai standings. True, he is only 14th in the driving accuracy charts, but the Golf Club Milano challenges the mind as much as the might, and as Ross shows, on tactical, straight-forward courses he has what it takes. 22/1.*
Finally, we've flipped the coin on our remaining two selections and we're using our heads - literally - going with another Englishman, 26-year-old Tommy Fleetwood. The scouser is having a year to remember, the birth of his son crowning a season where he's added consistency and mental toughness to his repertoire. Second at the WGC-Mexico Championship and fourth at the US Open showed his ability, while last week's T25 at the Alfred Dunhill masks the fact that he beat the course record at Carnoustie. He has the length and accuracy and he gets to grips with his putter he could be a real contender here. Seventh last year, we'll have an each-way dabble: 20/1.*
Whomever you decide to back, don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@stanjames) as we mark your card with all the latest updates: it's just like being on the fairway yourself!
CIMB Classic - Preview and Tips: HERE!
More, you say? More demanding than the ex you lot!
Regular readers will know that Casanova has nothing on us when it comes to romanticism, despite what the ex might say - and she has plenty to say, don't you dare doubt that! Still, we'll leave her to her ranting and share our final pick: Matt Fitzpatrick, who was the tails to Fleetwood's heads. They breed them tough in Sheffield and the 23-year-old has steel running through him. Since winning the Omega Masters he has finished T11 at the British Masters and T15 at the Alfred Dunhill. The tree-lined fairways and small greens will appeal to the brave Fitzpatrick, who will certainly meet the challenge head-on. Another with work to do with the putter, but at 20/1 there's enough play there for us to back him to come good here.*
- 2016 - Francesco Molinari -22 | 16/1
- 2015 - Rikard Karlberg -19 | 125/1
- 2014 - Hennie Otto -20 | N/A
- 2013 - Julien Quesne -12 | 250/1
- 2012 - Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano -24 | N/A
- 2011 - Robert Rock - 21 | 100/1
- 2010 - Fredrik Anderddon Hed -16 | N/A
Whoever you're backing, don't forget StanJames are offering our famous ACCA Insurance on the Italian Open/CIMB Classic
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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