Winner’s Share – €250,000
The European Tour moves to Italy this week, where it will not just be Race To Dubai points grabbing headlines, but the imminent deadline of Ryder Cup qualification looms at the end of our trip to the mediterranean. Only one man in the field can qualify outright and that is Scot Stephen Gallacher, who arguably warrants a place after his fine and steady form over the past year or so.
He needs to finish in side the top 2 in order to overhaul Graeme McDowell and secure 9th spot and it will also prove to all of us how his temperament and big-game attitude is shaping up. Is he worth a place? If he can follow in the footsteps of Jamie Donaldson’s wonderful victory last week, then he will fully deserve it.
As for the course, we will be near the famous city of Turin at the Circolo Golf Torino. The 7,208 yard par 72 hosted the event for the first time last year and as the home track to the Molinari brothers, it put on a great show with a final day scramble, which Julien Quesne finished out on top.
It is a tree-lined, parkland course with an abundance of bunkers and water hazards to overcome, therefore it will be important to keep the ball in play if you want to find any birdies. Because as we saw last year, low scoring is key and the winner will undoubtedly show their true class around on the greens.
Putting was the most important stat last year and that looks set to continue on what are relatively quick Agrostis surfaces. The 3 varying cuts of rough along the fairways do pose a great deal of danger, with the thickest being as long as 100mm, which is pretty much unplayable. Those accuracy gurus will, without doubt, have a major say.
We are sure many people will be backing Gallacher this week and we have no qualms with that, we have decided against it because we feel there is more value out there, but obviously the Scot and both Molinari’s should be up there come Sunday.
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Rafa Cabrera-Bello (40/1 various)
The enigmatic Spaniard has been plying his trade across the pond recently and this is his first return in 2 outings. He hasn’t fared too well in very difficult fields (including the PGA Championship) but you have to bare in mind that he shot two rounds in the 60s on both opening days, which shows his class – he just couldn’t keep it going…
He is now coming to a place where he will be one of a few who’s played here and achieved a cracking result. T5 back in 2008 when the course hosted a Challenge Tour event and in that 6 years since, he is a far greater player, which clearly excites us. We know he missed the cut last year, but again his form wasn’t anything to write home about going into the event.
He is slightly hit or miss, but when you look at his game, he is perfect for this track. A tee to green guru, who can scramble when things go array, he will be able to resurrect his challenge if he finds the rough or bunkers.
One of the top players in this average field and if his game is on, he can definitely challenge.
Alexander Levy (50/1 various)
Alexander Levy had his big breakthrough this year winning his first European Tour championship over in China and then making the field for the PGA – his first major event. A respectable T30 finish showed that the young Frenchman has got a lot of potential and he did not seem out of place amongst the greatest in the game at the moment.
We saw a lot of him when we went to Paris and although he suffered in torrid conditions on the Sunday, his bravado and tee to green game impressed us greatly. He didn’t seem to buckle under the enormous pressure of a home crowd, but the weather ended up getting the better of him. His potent mix of enormous drives – 13th in driving distance and ability to find the greens – 38th GIR makes him a very interesting proposition.
He finished T42 here last year, so has experience of the course and if he gets his full game going, he could be a danger at generous odds considering how his confidence should be soaring from a trip over the pond…
James Morrison (100/1 StanJames)
No not the singer or West Brom footballer, but the young English golfer who seems to be finally finding some consistency. He has struggled to find a great deal of form for a few years now and we have seen him make 4 cuts in a row, including 3 top 30s.
Throughout his 4 days in Czech Republic last week, where he finished T13, he was inside the top 20 for putting and top 30 for driving accuracy, so he has clearly found some rhythm again. It takes time to start challenging, but when we look at this field and a run of 4 decent performances, a big week could be just round the corner for Morrison.
He has played here 3 times, more than most taking part and like Bello, finished T5 in 2008, but missing the cut last year. His form leading in was pretty woeful, especially compared to 2014.
Find that consistency and a surprise result could be in store.
Chris Wood (50/1 Coral)
Everyone tipped Chris Wood for big things after 2 incredible top 10s at the Open in 08′ and 09′. He undoubtedly struggled until a cracking win in Qatar last year where he hit on of the most courageous approaches to a must (at least) birdie 18th. He infamously ended up eagling and taking the title outright and we all thought, finally here he is! He only managed to follow that up with 3 top 10s, one bing the WGC Invitational and that simply proves how much potential he has.
He has shown glimpses this year, recording a few top 10s and before his missed cut in Denmark, he made both cuts at the final 2 majors of 2014. On his day he is a fine tee to green player, who can hit the ball long, but his irons are his true weapon.
He may never have played here, but someone of his class can blow away from a field such as this and like Levy, at very reasonable odds.
Steve Webster (80/1 StanJames)
Steve Webster has a couple of European Tour titles to his name but has not won anything since 2007. He seems like an attractive outsider considering his performance here last year. He finished T2 and could have definitely won. But when you look at his form going into the 2013 edition, it is astonishing he was able to put in such a wonderful performance. He had missed 7 cuts in a row, whilst this year he has managed to produce a couple of solid scores, all be it amongst shockers.
If he rallies on whatever belief he found last year, then 80s is great value.
Simon Wakefield (150/1 SportingBet)
One of the straightest hitters on tour, Simon Wakefield has found a bit of form in recent weeks. A T9 in Denmark pretty much guarantees another year on the European circuit, whilst a solid T39 last week on a course that in no way suits him, will surely give him plenty of confidence. He finished T32 here last year and if he can pull all the aspects of his game together, he could mount a serious challenge. His putting never dropped outside the top 15 in Denmark and his accuracy was at its usual best in Czech Republic. Why not?!
Nino Bertasio (400/1 various)
A complete unknown Italian youngster. Nino Bertasio first and foremost has a superb name. Secondly, the main reason why we have decided to put some pennies on him is because he is playing out his skin on the Italian Tour. The sort of form that propels you to bigger things, no denying that. He is leading the money list by over double his nearest challenger, having won twice and recorded 6 top 15s in his last 8 outings. (Another 3 of those finished were inside the top 3.) At 400/1, always worth it!
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th