2023 Italian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE ITALIAN OPEN takes on an added significance this week. It will be staged at Marco Simone Golf Club, which hosts the Ryder Cup later this year and will provide European captain Luke Donald with a unique opportunity to view the course and gauge the form of some of the players who will be representing his team at the end of September.
A number of players who hope to be part of Donald’s team will be taking part, led by Frenchman Victor Perez, along with the likes of home favourite Guido Migliozzi, Thorbjorn Olesen, Robert MacIntyre, Jordan Smith, Adrian Otaegui, Adrian Meronk, Ewen Ferguson, Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard and Antoine Rozner.
Donald will be in action in Italy and it is a fair assumption that he will have something to say about the way the course is set up. It is a golf course that would have suited Donald when he was in his prime - don’t be surprised to see him finish the week in the top 10. Marco Simone is a course that rewards accuracy from the tee, and that was Donald’s bread and butter.
It is unfortunate that the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton will not be playing this week but with the US PGA Championship just around the corner it is understandable that they have chosen to remain in America.
The tournament was won last year by MacIntyre, who beat US Open champion Fitzpatrick in a playoff. Perez finished third, with McIlroy a further shot adrift in fourth place.
MacIntyre made 10 birdies and three bogeys in a spectacular 64 on the final day to force a play-off with third-round leader Fitzpatrick before birdieing the first extra hole to claim his second DP World Tour title.
(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)
After his victory, MacIntyre was optimistic about the future, saying that he hoped it would open the door and give him the confidence to go on and become a regular winner but he is still looking for a third DP World Tour success. He is currently ranked 91st in the world - two years ago he was 42nd.
If he is looking to secure an automatic place in Donald’s team then he is going to have to show a dramatic improvement in form - and soon. He will hope that the positive memories he has here will trigger something.
I fancy a big week from Thorbjorn Olesen, who is looking to reclaim a Ryder Cup berth.This is a golfer who plumbed the depths until bouncing back by winning the British Masters last year and then followed it up with a victory at the Thailand Classic in February.
The 33-year-old also finished tied sixth at the Indian Open and tied fourth at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He is also a former winner of this tournament, although not at Marco Simone.
Germany’s Yannik Paul is another who has been blazing a trail recently. A relatively late developer, the 29 year-old earned promotion to the DP World Tour for 2022 after finishing ninth on the Challenge Tour's Road to Mallorca Rankings. He had saved his best performance of the 2021 season for last as he finished runner-up at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final.
Paul won the Mallorca Open in October 2022, and has enjoyed some outstanding results since then, finishing solo second at both the Thailand Classic and Indian Open and tied sixth at the ISPS Handa Championship. There is always a surprise contender for an automatic Ryder Cup place and if Paul, who has a twin brother who is also a professional golfer, can continue his current form then he is going to be that man.
It was won in 2015 by Rikard Karlberg, in 2016 by Francesco Molinari , in 2017 by Tyrrell Hatton, in 2018 by Thorbjorn Olesen, in 2019 by Bernd Wiesberger, in 2020 by Ross McGowan, in 2021 by Nicolai Hojgaard and last year by Robert MacIntyre.
Robert MacIntyre returned to form in Korea last week, where he finished in a tie for seventh place. And he will, of course, have some great memories from 12 months ago. Thorbjorn Olesen is a former winner of this tournament and is enjoying a successful season.
Marco Simone is a par 72 measuring 7,255 yards. It was designed by Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane. Located 10 miles from Rome, it features lots of hillocks, plenty of thick rough. Water also comes into play on several holes.
Yannik Paul. Has had some outstanding results
Robert MacIntyre. Will return with good memories
Thorbjorn Olesen. Having a great season
Five to Follow:
Yannik Paul. Keeps going close
Robert MacIntyre. Fabulous putting stroke
Thorbjorn Olesen. Has turned it all around
Victor Perez. Wonderful swing
Adrian Meronk. Hoping to put down a marker for Luke Donald
Luke Donald. Still more than capable
Renato Paratore. Sweet-swinging Italian
Hurly Long. Streaky German
George Coetzee. Under-achiever
James Morrison. Can go very low
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Tags: european tour dp world tour