Italian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
BERND WIESBERGER defends the Italian Open title he won in such brilliant fashion last year when he shot a final round of 65 to pip Matthew Fitzpatrick by a shot in Rome. It’s going to be a very different tournament - in 2019 it was a Rolex Series event with prize money in excess of £7m and was played in front of large galleries, but this time there will be no spectators and a total prize fund of just one million euros.
It was one of Wiesberger’s three victories last season and his second Rolex Series success as he recovered from injury and finally rediscovered his best form. It also saw him rise to 22nd in the world rankings.
Fitzpatrick had led since the second round but was derailed by a double bogey at the ninth and finished second after a 69, with Scot Robert MacIntyre tied fourth as he continued his astonishing rookie season. Justin Rose took 14 fewer shots than in the third round, his 64 leaving him seven under for a share of 15th.
Wiesberger began the final round three shots back but was at the top of the leaderboard into the back nine after four birdies in five holes, with Fitzpatrick taking seven at the ninth, having sent his tee shot out of bounds.
The Austrian holed from the back of the 12th green to save par, while Fitzpatrick missed a birdie chance from inside five feet at the 11th.
Fitzpatrick saw his eagle chance from 10 feet at the 17th out spin out and he could only par the final hole as Wiesberger celebrated his sixth European title, his third of the year after taking the Made In Denmark and winning the Scottish Open in a play-off in July.
“It was a great summer for me," said Wiesberger, who missed the last seven months of the 2018 season with a wrist injury. "I played a lot of good golf and showed a lot of progress after coming back from the last year."
(Matt Wallace Finished Runner-up in Scotland)
It was a fourth second-place finish of the season for Fitzpatrick, who continues to play some remarkably consistent golf without being able to finish off the job. Last year was the first time since 2015 that he did not record a victory and, frustratingly, victory continues to elude him.
This year’s tournament will be played at Chervò Golf Club in San Vigilio di Pozzolengo, Brescia. The spectacular venue, next to Lake Garda, was established in 2008 and will host the event for the first time.
First played in 1925, the Italian Open has been an ever-present on the European Tour’s schedule since 1972. Its list of past champions includes major champions Tony Jacklin (1973), Billy Casper (1975), Bernhard Langer (1983 and 1997), Sandy Lyle (1984 and 1992), Greg Norman (1988), Graeme McDowell (2004) and home favourite Francesco Molinari (2006 and, 2016).
Franco Chimenti, Federazione Italiana Golf (FIG) President and CONI Vice President, said: “Despite the long lockdown, the operational team of FIG has never stopped. Our focus has always been on Italian golf in the present and into the future, looking for solutions to the problems we faced during these times of social distancing, leveraging our creativity whilst still respecting the rules. We are looking forward to this international showcase event as we head towards hosting The Ryder Cup in 2023. Italian golf doesn’t stop. We focus on today and tomorrow.”
Wiesberger leads a strong field that also includes Victor Perez, who returned to form at Wentworth, Lee Westwood, Chris Wood, Pablo Larrazabal, Matt Wallace, Joost Luiten, Marc Warren, Jordan Smith and Matthew Jordan. Keep an eye on Smith, a three-time winner on the European Tour. His last victory came in 2017 but he has produced some excellent form this season, finishing seventh at the Irish Open and 13th at the BMW. The same applies to Jordan, who has enjoyed six top-20 finishes during this extraordinary season. He is still looking for his first win but it surely cannot be long in coming.
Matt Wallace. Playing beautifully
Bernd Wiesberger. Class act
Matthew Jordan. A model of consistency
Matt Wallace. Has high hopes
Bernd Wiesberger. Beautiful golf swing
Matthew Jordan. Victory cannot be far away
Jordan Smith. Looking for the form that saw him win
Lee Westwood. Keeps gridding out good results
Marc Warren. Enjoying a good season
Edoardo Molinari. Will love performing on home soil
Joost Luiten. Struggling just now, but it can’t last
Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)
Tags: european tour