While this week’s Race to Dubai event will very much play second fiddle to events across the Atlantic, a reasonably strong line-up in Italy reflects the increasing depth of European golf. The Italian Open is well established on the schedule, but only at this venue since last year. Punters took a bit of a hiding on that occasion, with Daniel Vancsik winning at huge odds. The places were slightly easier to pck, though none were amongst the market leaders.


After last year’s result, the instant temptation was to keep stakes to a minimum. However, on reflection, there were some very clear trends from which to learn. Driving distance proved to be much more important than usual, as illustrated by Vancsik’s success and John Daly finishing second. No doubt that was due to the wide fairways, and with the course playing very soft following torrential rain, the trend could be accentuated.


With brother Francesco opting for Sawgrass rather than his national Open, there’s no doubt who the home favourite will be. Edoardo also heads the betting list and rightly so. Okay, he failed to deliver for us last week, but was surely entitled to an ordinary week after such a superb run over the past few months. He remains an outstanding prospect with an impressive win ratio, whose best 2010 form would make him a banker at this level.
2.5pts ew RHYS DAVIES @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
Just as Molinari is an attractively priced favourite, Davies‘ odds are perfectly fair in the absence of the very best Europeans. His recent form is outstanding, finishing inside the top six on four of last eight starts, including one of the performances of the year to win the Hassan Trophy. Even for his latest 22nd, in far from ideal conditions, Davies registered impressive long game stats.
1.5pts ew ROSS MCGOWAN @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
McGowan is very interesting, as he seems to have been written off by bookies on the basis of one disappointing week in unsuitably windy conditions. Prior to that tough test in Korea, Ross looked like he was finding his range with eighth in China, and a respectable 30th in elite company at Doral. Some of McGowan‘s form in the second half of last year was world class, especially when birdie-chasing was the order of the day.
1pt ew CHRIS WOOD @ 55/1 (GENERAL, 66/1 BET365)
Like McGowan, the odds suggest Wood has been rather forgotten by bookies. Sure, he disappointed from a good position over the weekend and achieved little in the big US events, but previously Wood had looked a surefire first-time winner. Top 20s in all three Gulf Swing events reads very well in this company, for instance. Given that Wood usually ranks amongst the top 20 driving distance leaders, there’s plenty to suggest he could bounce back in Italy.
0.5pt ew PAUL WARING @ 90/1 (BET365, PADDY POWER)
Waring rates a promising outsider given his power off the tee, and after finishing sixth over the weekend. That form didn’t come completely out of the blue, even if it was by far his best effort since making the top 20 amongst exalted company in Dubai. Two seasons ago, Waring was one of the best rookies around, and it would be no surprise to see him start contending regularly at this level.
0.5pt ew MARCEL SIEM @ 200/1 (GENERAL)
Here’s a capable outsider at 200/1. Siem couldn’t possibly be recommended on recent form having missed his last five cuts. He is, however, a massive hitter who should love this layout, and has twice previously made the top ten in this event.