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  • Writer's pictureAshley Wilkes

Italian Open preview and betting card by Ashley Wilkes

Rozner is available at a tempting price this week.

Italian Open Golf Tips

Antoine Rozner 60/1 1.25pt e/w 7 places – Skybet

John Catlin 90/1 0.75pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365

Marcel Schneider 90/1 0.75pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365

Matthew Southgate 100/1 0.75pt e/w 8 places – Ladbrokes

Marcus Armitage 100/1 0.75pt e/w 7 places – Skybet

Wil Besseling 150/1 0.5pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365

Unfortunately, the inevitable happened and we had our first no return last week. Lee Westwood was the closest we managed with a fast finishing tie for 12th. Congratulations to all Shane Lowry backers, great to see him win again. This week the PGA Tour is back so many eyes will move back across the pond but there are a lot of reasons to keep the focus in Europe this week. We have a strong field playing next year’s Ryder Cup venue so both quality of golf and intrigue of golf course are available. For me this course is very similar to other European Ryder Cup venues, particularly Celtic Manor and I think the skills required are also similar. Straight, fairly long drivers of the ball, with good approach play is the name of the game here. We’re expecting some wind but not gale-force so I’m expecting a winning score around -16.

The top of the market is dominated by Rory McIlroy who is as short as 4/1, he’s obviously the correct favourite and the class of the field but I’m happy to let that slide on what I’m sure is a scouting mission for next year as much as anything else for him this week. The others at the top make very little appeal for very similar reasons so this week I have a very speculative card, where I will be trying to grab a place and if the win comes along that’s even better. First up we have an article favourite in Antoine Rozner. He matches up to this course really well, good length off the tee, incredibly accurate and is on a real approach hot streak at the moment. There are obvious concerns about the putter but he’s proven that he doesn’t need a red hot putter to place and if it does somehow get hot maybe he can even win!

Next up I have 2 selections at 90/1. Firstly, John Catlin, he’s a great ball striker, who finds lots of fairways and while not the longest is not short by any means either. He’s also suffering with a cold putter at the moment and I’m reluctant to back him in any birdie fests, but with an expected winning score in the teens I’m happy to take a chance here. T24 here last year is something to build on, especially with a final round 67. We also have Marcel Schneider at 90/1, the Challenge Tour graduate suffered a tough start to DP World Tour life missing his first 6 cuts but since then has really found some form, 5 Top 10s have followed and another could follow here. Excellent off the tee, streaky approach game which has been pretty good recently and a good putter make for an interesting combination at a course like this. I’m hoping his recent experience at the top of the leaderboard stands him in good stead if he is near the top going into Sunday.

My favourite bet of the week though is Matthew Southgate at 100/1, while previously considered a Links specialist golfer, the Englishman is showing some brilliant form at the moment. Over the last month he’s been one of the best ball strikers on tour gaining strokes off the tee and approach and the week he managed to get the putter to work he was rewarded with a T4 at the Made in HimmerLand tournament. T13 last week in a much stronger field and T34 here last year I was expecting 66-80/1 so seeing 100/1 was a real bonus. If he doesn’t win here, keep an eye on him for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Also at 100/1 we have Marcus Armitage, he’s a great ball striker on his day, and while they have been a bit random recently, his correlating course form is good. T9 at Celtic Manor this year, and while he missed the cut here last year that was down to some awful putting, his ball striking was actually very impressive. All of this means he’s worth chancing at 100/1 as his ceiling is much higher than those around him in the betting.

Finally, rounding of the card is Wil Besseling. The dutchman is one of the best drivers of the golf ball on tour ranking 6th in Strokes Gained Off the Tee for the season, it’s not been his best year for approach play, however his irons did come to life last week at Wentworth and last season he was very good so hopefully it’s not a flash in the pan. He’s shown he can put it all together at times, with an excellent 2nd at the Porsche European Open earlier this year a course which shares certain characteristics with the course this week as well.

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