The European Tour visits the fashion capital of Milan this week for the 72nd instalment of the Open D'Italia presented by DAMIANI. South Africa's Hennie Otto is the defending champion.
As the 2015 season enters its closing stages, the battle is on for players to make it into the top-110 on the Race to Dubai standings and earn playing rights for next year. Others will be looking to secure a spot in the top 60 on the rankings and so gain a start in the lucrative, season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
A strong field has gathered for this historic tournament. It’s an event that began life in 1925 and this will be the 72nd running of the competition. In the past it’s been won by such greats of the game as: Peter Thomson, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman.
The event heads back to the Golf Club Milano this week. It’s the first time the venue has been used for the Open D’Italia since 1990. It’s a testing, tree-lined track that will demand accuracy from the players.
Four things to watch for at the Open D’Italia:
1. Veterans to keep an eye on this week include charismatic Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, plus a number of former major champions. 2016 European Ryder Cup captain and 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke will tee it up, so too will Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang and Stewart Cink of the USA. Although not yet in the veterans class, two-time major winner Martin Kaymer will start the event as one of the favourites.
2. The battle for the top 110. The players around the bubble will be starting to feel the pressure as the season draws to a close. Benjamin Hebert of France is currently 110th on the standings, but he’s only a few thousand points ahead of Ireland’s Kevin Phelan in 111th. Craig Lee and David Drysdale of Scotland are just a little further back and all four of those men will play in Milan.
3. The home challenge will be formidable this week with a number of fine Italian players on the start sheet. Francesco Molinari and his brother Edoardo are probably the best known, together with former British Amateur winner Matteo Manassero. One Italian to look out for though is 18-year-old Renato Paratore. He’s enjoyed a pretty solid first season on Tour and was tied for fifth in the recent Czech Masters. He looks to have what it takes to win on the circuit.
4. Many of the form players on the European Tour will play this week. Englishmen Eddie Pepperell and Danny Willett are likely contenders. Willett is currently second on the Race to Dubai standings, just under 400,000 points behind Rory McIlroy. He could more than cut in half that deficit with a win this week. Others who might feature at Golf Club Milano include Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.