After five years at the Castello di Tolcinasco Golf and Country Club near Milan, there’s a change of venue for this year’s Italian Open. The Royal Park I Roveri near Torino will host the tournament.
There’s also a new sponsor in the shape of BMW. It’s one of three tournaments on European soil that the carmaker is committed to supporting in 2009.
Last year’s Italian Open witnessed super-low scoring with South Africa’s Hennie Otto just outlasting Robert Karlsson and a charging Oliver Wilson to win on an incredible total of -25.
Otto will be back to defend his title but will be up against a high-class field that includes last week’s winner Thomas Levet.
The charismatic John Daly is also in the line-up as he looks to make an impact on the European Tour. He’s joined on the start-sheet by the man he famously defeated in a playoff for the 1995 Open Championship – Constantino Rocca.
Ryder Cup heroes Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke will also be playing in Italy.
Venue: Royal Park I Roveri, Torino, Italy
Date: May 7 – 10
Course stats: par 71, 7,222 yards
Purse: €1,300,000 Winner: €216,660
Defending champion: Hennie Otto (-25)
Thursday 7th – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am
Friday 8th – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am
Saturday 9th – Live on Sky Sports Xtra from 10.30am
Sunday 10th – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12.30am
Thomas Björn – The Dane has begun to show some of his best form in recent weeks and, securing a tie for third in Spain last Sunday will have given him a huge confidence boost.
Søren Hansen – Another Danish player who looks to be coming back onto his game. His first round 63 at PGA Catalunya could have been even better had it not been for a double bogey on the first hole.
Francesco Molinari – He won this event in 2006 and is on excellent form this season. He could well make it two home Open wins come Sunday afternoon.
Key hole: 18th. The closing hole at any tournament is always the likely site of any drama. But, when the closing hole is a 507-yard par-4, the chances of last-minute swings of fortune are all the more likely.
Skills required: Adapting. This is a course that the players will not know. The men who can figure out its challenges and adapt to the layout most readily will have the best chance of victory.