Author: Paul Atkin
Published: 09:20 15/09/2015
A decent quality field heads to Italy this week for the 72nd Open D'Italia, which this year moves to the cosmopolitan surroundings of the Golf Club Milano in the Parco di Monza area of Milan.
This sumptuous venue - situated near to the Monza Formula1 racetrack - has hosted six previous renewals of this long established event, the latest being in 1990 when the winner was none other than Sky Sports golf presenter Richard Boxall.The Par 72 7,159yd course is a flat heavily tree lined track, which fits very much in to the classic parkland category. As such, this is a week where accuracy will be paramount from tee to green on a layout where virtually all the field has no competitive experience over.
The good news for the field is that the forecast is pretty good for the four days, with plenty of warm sunshine other than a chance of a thunderstorm on Thursday and only light breezes anticipated.
From a punting perspective, this is a mighty difficult puzzle to solve, with no previous course form to work from, so small stakes are advised this week.
The obvious starting point is to look at the chance of local favourite Francesco Molinari, who won this event in 2006. Starting with the positives, this tight tree lined track sets up perfectly for the Italian who hits fairways and greens for fun. He will also presumably know this layout better than most of the field.
On the flip side, he has looked really flaky when in contention at the business end of tournaments this year - particularly at Wentworth and Muirfield Village - and his putting under pressure is always a constant concern for me. Possibly becoming a father again since his last outing in the USPGA at Whisling Straits will inspire him to perform well this week in front of his adoring fans, but there are enough negatives for me to look elsewhere for better value.
Last week was another good week for the column, with Eddie Pepperrell bringing home a share of the each-way money at decent odds of 35/1.
The nap this week is awarded to the stylish Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, whose recent Tied 8th finish in the Czech Masters was his fifth Top 10 finish of the season. He also played well in Holland last week to finish a solid Tied 23rd, showing his game is back in pretty good nick, after a brief loss of form mid-season.
He should be well suited by this layout, as he features high in both Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation (GIR), so expect this proven winner to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon.
A player who I have a sneaking fancy for this week is Alejandro Canizares, who has shown a welcome return to form in his last two full field starts - with a Tied 16th place finish in Switzerland and a Tied 12th place in Holland last week.
The two-time previous winner is not the most consistent of performers, but he has plenty of form around courses with similarities to this track. Therefore, he is another who could well be suited to this new layout.
If he does win, he will be completing a notable family double - as his well known father Jose Maria Canizares won the 1981 Italian Open at this same venue.
The final selection is the straight hitting Eduardo De La Riva, who arrives here off the back of a Tied 2nd place finish in Holland last week - where his long game in particular looked in really good shape (5th in Driving Accuracy & 3rd in GIR).
Until last week's great performance, the Spaniard had been struggling to hold on to his Tour card but a Tied 8th in his previous start in the Czech Masters had shown definite signs of a return to form.
With no more worries about keeping his Tour privileges, the Barcelona resident should be full of confidence for this week's gig in Milan and, with the likelihood this tight layout will suit his accurate style of play, expect another strong showing.
His current three figure quotes with a couple of layers seem extremely generous, and should be snapped up as they represent great each-way value.