We now venture into the closing stages of the European Tour with five tournaments remaining until the season-closing DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Last weekend Tyrrell Hatton retained the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Scotland, but now the focus switches to this week’s Italian Open.
As you’d expect at this stage of the season there’s a high-quality field lining up for the 74th edition of the Italian Open (it’s been a staple of the tour since 1972), including Spaniard Jon Rahm, defending champion Francesco Molinari, last week’s victor Hatton, the Race To Dubai leader frontrunner Tommy Fleetwood, and let’s not forget the Masters winner Sergio Garcia!
Below we pluck out all the important information and talking points ahead of Thursday's Italian Open in Monza.
Location, Course, Time And Channel
The Italian Open will take place at Golf Club Milano in Parco di Monza, playing at 7,150, par 71. Last year the tournament was played in mid-September but has been moved a month back in the schedule, to October.
The Italian Open is the fifth event on the new eight-tournament Rolex Series, which offers a prize fund of at least $7million for each event. To date, the four winners of the 2017 Rolex Series are Alex Noran, Tommy Fleetwood, John Rahm, and most recently Rafa Cabrera Bellow.
The tournament, which features fairways lined with trees and smaller-than-average greens, will be looking to attract the crowds as the country continues to build towards the 2022 Ryder Cup, which will be held in Rome. The action will be screened live on Sky Sports Golf from 9am to 5pm (Thursday to Friday), then 11.30am to 5pm over the weekend.
Jon Rahm Ready To Roar
Jon Rahm is the stand-out name at the Italian Open, and it will surprise few that the World Number 5 leads the betting at 13/2 to lift the prestigious trophy. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a stellar year to date, winning the Farmers Insurance Open and Irish Open, while he’s impressed at the WGC-Mexico Championship (3rd).
Rahm, who is bidding to stake his claim for a place in next year’s Ryder Cup in France, is certainly looking forward to the tournament, telling Golf Shake:
“The Italian Open is one of the great events on the European Tour and one that you want to get your hands on. The national Opens of continental Europe are steeped in history and tradition, so to win those events is really special. Winning the Irish Open a couple of months back was an amazing feeling, so hopefully I can play well in Milan and try to win another one.”
Fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia is also in the top cluster of names in the betting at 16/1 to win his first tournament since finally cementing a major, the Masters, back in April. The 37-year-old, who this week parted ways with TaylorMade following a run of 19 wins spanning 15 years, will be looking to recover from a disappointing showing at the British Masters earlier this month.
The duo will both be bidding to close the gap on Race To Dubai leader Fleetwood, who currently has a 1000-point lead over the Spaniards in what is a thrilling race to be crowned Europe’s top player. New father Fleetwood returned to action in last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, finishing T25, and looks a cracking bet at 22/1 to go on and win this week, in a tournament he finished 7th in last term. Meanwhile, he’s a tempting 7/1 to be the top Englishman.
@TommyFleetwood1 is the first man to shoot 63. 👏
Local favourite Francesco Molinari battled past Danny Willett to win last year, 10 years after his first triumph in the event in 2006 - which was his first tour win - making the World Number 18 the only native to win multiple Italian Open since it became part of the European Tour back in 1972.
As always in these parts, Molinari (14/1) will be roared on by a passionate home crowd, who will be hoping he makes it victory number three. As will his brother, Edoardo, who is a 300/1 shot to stun the field and finish top of the pile, while he’s priced at 20/1 to be the Top Italian.
Francesco Molinari and that winning feeling:
Other Names In Contention
Tyrrell Hatton could prove to be a popular bet at 16/1 as he bids to register back-to-back wins on the European Tour. The 25-year-old successfully defended the Alfred Dunhill Championship last weekend, carding an impressive -24, while the week before he was leading the British Masters after three rounds, before slipping to 8th.
Another name in the frame is last month’s Omega European masters winner Matthew Fitzpatrick, while other players to keep a close eye on include Alex Noran, Shane Lowry, and Ross Fisher who remarkably carded an Old Course record at St Andrew’s (61) on his final round, which saw him finish 2nd behind Hatton.
@RossFisher signs for a 61. 👏