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Italian Open Tips: Six selections for the European Tour event in Rome

Italian Open Tips: Andrew 'Beef' Johnston features this week
Italian Open Tips: Andrew 'Beef' Johnston features this week

I really felt for Bernd Wiesberger on Sunday. A one shot lead on the last hole, with a par almost certain to lock up a first Ryder Cup spot. He found the water with his approach to the 18th green, made double bogey and handed the title to young Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, who picked up an incredible 3rd European Tour victory before the age of 21. Heartbreaking for the Austrian and I think nobody would begrudge him putting that right this week.

Now, the European Tour heads to Italy for the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club. The Jim Fazio designed course that is set to host the Ryder Cup in 2023.

The course measures 7268 yards and plays to a par 71. Little evidence as to how it will play, as it hasn’t hosted this event since 1994 and has gone through major renovations recently, but from the admittedly sparse videos and images I’ve seen of the course, it looks like a setup in which good, long drivers of the ball could thrive.

Golf betting tips

The fairways are generous and the length of most of the holes will tempt the bigger hitters to hit driver. A real mix of longer holes, including the 503 yard par 4, 8th and 626 yard par 5, 18th. As well as shorter holes, in which some of the longer drivers will fancy their chances of either driving the green, or at least hitting it right up there. The 330 yard par 4, 11th hole the standout in this respect.

There is, however, plenty of danger awaiting errant shots. Water is in play on close to half the holes and there are cleverly positioned bunkers, not only on the fairways, but protecting most of these undulating putting surfaces.

The course looks fairly exposed and if wind were to arrive, it could make things really tricky with the amount of danger that lurks around this setup. Though the current forecast predicts nothing more than a moderate breeze.

We have a strong field this week with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Francesco Molinari teeing it up, after spending most of the season stateside. And with the Ryder Cup less than a month away, there will be a lot of players looking for a good performance, to throw their hat into the ring for making the team at Whistling Straits.

The fairways are generous and the length of most of the holes will tempt the bigger hitters to hit driver. A real mix of longer holes, including the 503 yard par 4, 8th and 626 yard par 5, 18th. As well as shorter holes, in which some of the longer drivers will fancy their chances of either driving the green, or at least hitting it right up there. The 330 yard par 4, 11th hole the standout in this respect.

There is, however, plenty of danger awaiting errant shots. Water is in play on close to half the holes and there are cleverly positioned bunkers, not only on the fairways, but protecting most of these undulating putting surfaces.

The course looks fairly exposed and if wind were to arrive, it could make things really tricky with the amount of danger that lurks around this setup. Though the current forecast predicts nothing more than a moderate breeze.

We have a strong field this week with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Francesco Molinari teeing it up, after spending most of the season stateside. And with the Ryder Cup less than a month away, there will be a lot of players looking for a good performance, to throw their hat into the ring for making the team at Whistling Straits.

Italian Open Tips


 

Calum Hill each-way (6 places)
33/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:30 Odds subject to change.

The market is headed by Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood, with Fitzpatrick the most tempting of the two. Predominantly left out because, with a course of which we’re not sure how it will play, I’m not keen on betting guys at the front of the market. Instead, I’ll start this week a little further down, with a familiar name from last week’s European Masters preview, Calum Hill.

Hill was 33/1 last week and finished in a big tie for 7th place, a quality performance in his first start since picking up his first title at this level, making his results in his last 3 starts read an impressive 4-1-7. He’s the same price again this week, and though the field is a little stronger, with the two aforementioned Englishmen, I expected he’d be a little shorter considering recent results and the newfound confidence that winning brings.

Hill’s performance last week was built on a good week off the tee and an excellent week with the putter, where he ranked 1st. He’s a player with all round quality, doing everything well, including driving, and is plenty long enough. This contributed to him ranking 4th in bogey avoidance and 6th in birdie average, a combination which will work well anywhere.

As mentioned last week, when he won his first title on the Challenge Tour, he maintained his form for weeks after, winning again within two starts. He’s clearly in a good place and with that win at London Golf Club potentially looking like a decent pointer to this event, can repeat that feat now on the main tour.

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Dean Burmester each-way (7 Places)
40/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:35 Odds subject to change.

With it looking like a good setup for big hitters, there’s a real theme of quality, predominantly long driving from here on in and none appealed as much as big hitting South African, Dean Burmester.

A 40th place finish last week in the Swiss Alps doesn’t quite tell the full story for Burmester. He led after the first two rounds and was playing exceptional golf, only for the iron play to desert him over the weekend. That on a course that doesn’t suit him quite as much as this week’s venue should do.

A quality driver, ranking 23rd on tour, he’s also one of the longest, ranking 3rd in driving distance. The poor approach play last weekend was hopefully just a blip, as he ranks a good 32nd on tour in approach play for the year. 

It’s the putter which can often make or break Burmester’s week, a ranking of 81st in putting doesn’t show you how volatile he is in this area of his game. He’s a player who is just as capable of leading the putting stats for the week, as he is to finish near the bottom.

He ranks 10th in birdie average and 25th in eagles, also good at keeping bogeys off his card, with a solid ranking of 53rd in bogey avoidance. The par 5s should all be reachable, with him also being able to take it to some of these shorter par 4s.

If we get him on one of his good putting weeks, he looks capable of overpowering this favourable golf course and can pick up his 2nd title of the year, after winning the Tenerife Open back in May.

Antoine Rozner each-way (5 Places)
40/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:35 Odds subject to change.

It’s been a hectic year for the talented Parisian, Antoine Rozner. Taking in the first majors of his career, he’s also teed it up in the US a few times and travelled to Japan to take part in the Olympics. Though he hit a bit of a flat spot in the middle, after he won in Qatar, he’s since made all of his last 6 cuts and put up his best performance since a quality top 20 at the Memorial Tournament in June, with a fast finishing 13th place finish last week at Crans. One which saw him rank as the best player in the field tee-to-green.

This upgrade in the quality of events in his schedule has come from his rise in Europe over the last two years. Now a two time winner, first winning in Dubai at the end of last year and picking up that second title in the Middle East, by winning a windy Qatar Masters back in March.

With a game built on quality, long driving, ranking 4th off the tee and 16th in driving distance, it comes as little surprise that Rozner is suited to these more exposed golf courses. He also backs up that quality off the tee with an excellent iron game, ranking 14th for greens in regulation and 34th in approach.

Like Burmester, he drives it well enough to overpower this golf course and if he can find some improvement with the putter, can go well, with the rest of his game looking in such excellent shape.

Andrew Johnston each-way (7 Places)
66/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:45 Odds subject to change.

I commented last week that Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston caught the eye but was put off by his lack of golf. He looked early on like making me regret that decision, sitting 6th at halfway and hitting the ball excellently. He dropped to 60th over the weekend, though there was enough promise there, in a week where he led the field off the tee, to give confidence that his game is in good shape. Also taking into consideration that was his first start in 7 weeks, it really isn’t overly surprising that he faded as the week went on.

Though he’s only played 11 times this year, he’s had some solid results. Two top 10s, a 4th place finish in the Canary Islands and 9th in the Irish Open. He’s also got a couple of other top 25s to his name.

He finished 4th in this event in 2019, at Olgiata Golf Club. More important than simply just showing some form in the country, that golf course was heavily renovated by Jim Fazio back in 1996 and again in 2010, the designer of this week’s venue and produced a leaderboard full of quality drivers of the ball. Something in which Beef excels, rating as the 20th best player on tour off the tee and as shown last week, that part of his game is in fantastic shape.

With a bit of rust hopefully shaken off, I think he looks a good fit for here and is a player capable of showing up whether this course plays really tough or easier than expected.

Daniel van Tonder each-way (7 Places)
100/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:45 Odds subject to change.

A couple of longshots this week, both quality drivers, starting with another South African bomber, Daniel Van Tonder. He’s a player I’ve backed a few times over recent months, with plenty of frustration but now out to three figures, despite still producing solid results, he looks good value, as well as a good fit for this week’s venue.

He ranks 15th on tour tee-to-green. Solid around the greens and solid in approach, but it’s off the tee where he excels, ranking 5th and is 41st in driving distance. With the putter the only part of his game in which he struggles. Last week’s 21st place finish at Crans very much showing what Van Tonder is about, as he ranked 7th tee-to-green but 68th in putting.

As said, he’s been frustrating when backing him, but he’s played well the last 3 weeks, twice finishing in the top 25. His issue has been getting into the mix for the weekend. If he can start a little quicker, he’s shown over the last couple of years, with 5 wins to his name, that he knows how to win, and I’d be confident of him making a run at it if he’s involved coming into Sunday.

Romain Langasque each-way (7 Places)
175/1
Odds correct as of 2021-08-31 12:55 Odds subject to change.

With recent form figures that read MC-MC-44-MC-35-MC, it’s not easy, initially, to make a case for France’s Romain Langasque, but when I looked into his results a little further his performances haven’t quite been as bad as they look. 

The first of those missed cuts was a really poor performance in the European Open in Germany, but since then his performances have improved. He only missed the cut by a couple in Ireland, then followed that by shooting no worse than a round of 70, in a solid 44th place finish in the Scottish Open, in a top class field. 

A missed cut in The Open is easily forgiven for most players and he followed up by finishing 35th at the Olympics, once again shooting four rounds no worse than 70. Another missed cut last week, though he only missed it by one, again shooting two solid rounds of 70.

With form at similar, exposed setups, that favour quality drivers, no more so than his victory in Wales last year, he looks a good fit for this course. He drives it well, ranking 37th off-the-tee and hits it long enough. 

His recent efforts suggest he’s not too far away and I think this classy Frenchman can kickstart his year, this week in Rome.

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