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Italian Challenge Open

Robin Sciot-Siegrist - time for his maiden victory

Robin Sciot-Siegrist – 1 point each-way @110-1

Thomas Linard – 1 point each-way @ 50-1

Sebastian Soderberg – 0.50 points each-way @ 100-1

Gary Boyd – 0.25 points each-way @ 225-1 

The game is beginning to take its toll.

Nobody said it was easy, no-one ever said it would be so hard, but even after getting over their cold play (boo, find another job, gerroff) our bets are just falling short. Adrian Meronk was brilliant at times through last weeks’ Prague Challenge but ultimately fell way short. However 125-1 shot Toby Tree clearly built on his Open qualification threatening to place but again falling a couple short when it counted, finishing 8th. Top that with the first two being players totally out of form but with mentions on here in the past month and………it’s closer and closer and it will get there but it’s one slog!

This week’s event fits perfectly into a formline, often seeing the same players turn up at both Czech and Italian events. The problem is that we are seeing both maiden winners and out-of-form longshots winning in all tours recently, making the job harder than ever.

The course at Is Molas may well be in Sardinia but I am not sure we can expect a dog-fight as seen at the Rocco Forte on the main tour when windy conditions caused real issues over the weekend. There haven’t been many events held here for the upper levels but going back, the winners list includes players such as Ian Poulter and Gregory Havret (both in very low scores), and at only 6300-odd yards some of these better types could take this apart.

No question that the top-3 are the ones to beat. Aaron Rai is getting back to his best after a short rest and a stint at the US Open, whilst Julien Guerrier backed up his win at home with a closing 2nd in Prague last week. 8th at Rocco Forte in higher class in the same area gives a huge boost to his chances and whilst I’m not an advocate of such a short price it is hard to see where he goes wrong this week if you want a certain run.

Current Road to Oman leader, Julian Suri, looks the weaker of the favourites. It isn’t as if he has done anything wrong since racking up huge points when runner-up in Portugal but he looks like he needs a rest having lost good weekend positions at both Prague and Denmark. With this event having the second biggest prize thus far on the tour, this is a chance for Rai to close the gap further on the man clear at the top.

In terms of betting, I had to look further down the list and came up with three-off-the-tee….

Thomas Linard has bits and pieces of course form with a top-10 back in 2013 at third-tier level (behind Ben Evans) and he is a player who seems to come to the fore around Alps venues.

Winner of the D&D Czech in 2014, he followed that up with a T5 in this year’s running, whilst placings in France and Italy read well this week. A runner-up at Saint Omer suggests he is comfortable at island venues, whilst 3rd at the EMC in 2015 reads as well as 12th in the Italian Open on the main tour, mixing it with the likes of Fleetwood, Levy and Cabrera-Bello.

Recent form may not be standout but its significant that his best finishes this year have been at favourable locations Czech, France and 12th at lucrative Portugal whilst last week’s best-of-the-day final round 63 may be enough to get him going around here.

I’m taking a chance with Sebastian Soderberg this week purely on price. Taking off at the Rocco Forte with a first round 61, he faded in the wind of day-3 but still managed a top-20 finish. Given conditions here should not be anything like as bad, he is far better judged on his 2015 and 2016 seasons, recording a win in Kenya, a trio of podium finishes and four further top-10s. Finishes lately haven’t been stunning but picking the best of his last couple of events he has struck three 67’s and a 68 and it looks as if just consistency is letting him down. If the return to Sardinia promotes self-confidence, three figures will look very big.

Robin Sciot-Siegrist has been on the radar of a few this year and may be ready to start fulfilling the promise.

The progressive Frenchman honed his game at the University of Louisville where he recorded the best stroke average in the history of the college. Alumni include JB Holmes, Kenny Perry and Adam Hadwin which isn’t bad company in this context and he seems as if he is coming right judged on last week’s 8th in Prague.

In an interview with his national magazine, Robin (I’m not typing that surname out again) said he felt as if his game was suited to selected courses and that he enjoys the harder tests but as we are in the dark regarding expected conditions, I am happy to take the chance on the promise. He may have missed the cut in the Hydro but showed potential in the second-round 68, whilst the experience of being in the mix in Prague will serve him well and he may well be on a roll.

There is always one that keeps calling, and whilst old favourite Rhys Davies looks huge at 250-1+, he has done nothing at all this year. Instead, fellow longshot Gary Boyd is worth one last poke at a similar price.

I wrote last week that the disappointing Englishman has not kicked on at all from a very promising early career, but once again he does turn up at the same places all the time. Sure, Prague didn’t go according to plan despite an acceptable first round, but I keep looking at his form in Italy and neighbouring countries..

Top-5 in two Italian Opens on the main tour, 2nd in the 2015 EMC, 2nd at the Swiss Challenge as well as placings aplenty in the Czech Republic and in the hope this place inspires him,he is worth a shekel each-way




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