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2016 Open d’Italia

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Golf Club Milano returns to host the Italian Open for the eighth time since the tournament’s inception in 1925. Located in Parco Reale di Monza, the course is a 7,156 yard Par 71. A tree-lined course with small greens, GC Milano has a similar feel to Wentworth. Last year, the Top 10 at the Open d’Italia featured five men that went on to finish T7 or better at this year’s BMW PGA Championship.

Rikard Karlberg won the event in 2015, hitting only 35.7% of the fairways in regulation. 8 of the 9 men that finished T3 or better hit less than 56% of the fairways. They’re tough to find but as long as you’re not too far from the short stuff, you’ll be fine.

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Hitting plenty of greens is key. Karlberg hit 75% of the greens in regulation and Martin Kaymer, who finished runner-up, hit 83.3%. There has been a fairly major change at the course, with the Par 5 16th being changed to a Par 4. The winning score of -19 in 2015 will be a bit higher but nothing else should really change.

Seven of the Europe’s Ryder Cup team have made the trip to Milan for the event and they’re among the favourites. Kaymer is the favourite at 14/1. The German has been really solid in Europe this year but is yet to win. Ben An, Joost Luiten and Danny Willett are the next three in the betting. The Ryder Cupper is my favourite of the three. Willett has gone close a lot since his Masters win but keeps just missing out.

Fitzpatrick, Rafa, Westwood, Molinari, Kjeldsen, Hend and Hatton make up the rest of the favourites. Cabrera-Bello is a great fit for the course but he always looks dodgy in contention. Hend is in cracking form and even though he’s won twice this year, I don’t completely trust him to get over the line.

There are several players in the range between 50/1 and 100/1 that I quite like but the four I’ve backed are all three figure prices.

First up is Nino Bertasio at 100/1 with 7 Places. The Italian was in excellent form for three rounds last week. The pressure got to him in the final round and he fell away. There have been several occasions where golfers have followed up a final round meltdown with a win. A return to his home country will hopefully inspire the 28-year-old.

This has been a breakthrough year for Bertasio and he is pretty comfortably inside the Top 110 on the Race to Dubai Rankings. After last week, it’s clear that he’s good enough to win on the European Tour and I think this could be his week.

Robert Rock is up next at 125/1 with 6 Places. The 39-year-old has a win and runner-up finish in the Open d’Italia. Rock has essentially made most of his money in Ireland, Italy and the Middle East. He ranked 1st in GIR at the Czech Masters and I really fancy him to go well this week.

Max Kieffer is my third pick at 200/1 with 6 Places. After a streak of 28 Consecutive Cuts last year, Kieffer has all of a sudden found himself in a slump. The 26-year-old finally looked in control last week and only his putter let him down. The German ranked 1st in Driving Accuracy and 16th in GIR in Holland and on a course that’s all about keeping it in play, I love his chances.

Finally, I’m taking the 225/1 on offer about Simon Khan. The Englishman has literally made more than a third of his career earnings at Wentworth. GC Milano is so similar to the Surrey course, that I couldn’t resist at a huge price. Khan almost never makes his way onto leaderboards that aren’t at Wentworth but finished in the Top 10 at The Dutch last week. He was 8th in FIR and 4th in GIR, if he can replicate that performance then he should go close.