Ironically, an event that holds such significance for the upcoming Ryder Cup will be held at the venue that will host the tournament in 2023. Meanwhile the Italian Open will take place in Rome Sep 2-5
There are two more events for golfers to qualify for the European Ryder Cup team. The top six advance automatically, and then captain Padraig Harrington will select six others to fill out the squad. But before next week’s BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour stops at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome for the 2021 Italian Open. This course will also be the site of the Ryder Cup in 2023, which is the next time the event is in Europe after this year’s edition at Whistling Straits in the United States.
Most of the top stars on the Euro Tour are taking part, including home-country favorite Francesco Molinari and former Race to Dubai champs Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
The course itself is 7,200 yards and opened in 1989 after it was designed by Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane. In addition to distance being a benefit, accuracy is almost a better trait to have, as the course is lined by mature trees and the rough is thick.
The tournament’s origins began in 1925 and was played consistently until 1960, taking a break for World War II. It returned in 1971 and started as part of the European Tour the following year and has remained a fixture on the schedule ever since, making it one of a handful of tournaments that has been around for so long. Marco Simone Golf and Country Club has been in the current rotation for the event since 1994.
In the European Tour era, no golfer has won this event more than two times. The list of repeat champions includes Molinari, Bernhard Langer, Ian Poulter, Sandy Lyle, and Hennie Otto. Otto also owns the tournament record, shooting a -25 in 2008.
Unfortunately for Molinari, he’s dealt with several injuries this year and likely isn’t in contention to be a Ryder Cup pick despite his heroics in 2018. He’s missed seven of 13 cuts on the PGA Tour this year with his only bright spot being a 13th-place finish at the U.S. Open Championship.
The other Italian favorite is Guido Migliozzi, who comes into the tournament with +2000 odds. The 24-year-old was fourth at the U.S. Open and has had a recent run of success that includes runner-up finishes at the Made in Himmerland and the British Masters. In addition to winning in his home country, a good performance will boost his Ryder Cup hopes, so there is plenty of motivation for Migliozzi.
Ross McGowan won last year’s event while Bernd Wiesberger claimed victory in 2019. Wiesberger is among the favorites here, teeing off at +1500. The Austrian was the runner up last week at the Omega European Masters and also has a fifth-place finish to his credit among his last five events.
Fitzpatrick is the favorite at +1200. He hasn’t played on the European Tour since finishing tied for second at the Scottish Open in July, and he was 26th the following week at The Open Championship. His last tournament was the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at the beginning of August, where he finished 57th.
Tommy Fleetwood is +1400 despite playing in those same tournaments but not having as good of results. But he has the skill to put an uncharacteristically down year behind him and turn things on down the stretch of the season.
Calum Hill (+2000) has had a great August, recording a win at the Cazoo Classic along with a fourth-place effort at the Hero Open the previous week. Last week, he ended up tied for seventh at the European Masters, so he’s definitely one of the hottest golfers in the field.
Rasmus Hojgaard (+2000) could be considered even hotter. The 20-year-old won the Omega European Masters last week and finished tied for third at the Cazoo Classic two weeks’ prior, so it’s safe to say that he’s on a run.
The youngster from Denmark has already won three times on the European Tour, winning one tournament in each of the past three seasons. He shot a seven-under 63 in the final round last week, winning after Wiesberger carded a double bogey on the final hole after Hojgaard was already in the clubhouse.
Veteran Henrik Stenson is among those listed at +2500. He finished third at the European Masters last week and was fourth at the D+D Real Czech Masters the week before. He may be coming into form after a rough go at it at the majors, missing the cut at both The Open Championship and the U.S. Open earlier in the summer.
Garrick Higgo (+3000) has had an incredible 2021 and is a great value at the current odds. He has two Euro Tour wins along with one on the PGA Tour this season, and this is his swan song in Europe before the South African joins the PGA Tour full-time next year. Among his accomplishments are setting a 72-hole record on the European Tour with a 255 at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, and he also recorded three wins on the Euro or PGA Tour in his first 26 starts, which tied a record set by Tiger Woods.
Ryan Fox, a popular golfer who is the pride of New Zealand, is at +2500 despite not having won in two years and having uneven results in recent months. His best finish over the course of his last five starts was a tie for 13th at the Cazoo Classic in mid-August.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE 2021 ITALIAN OPEN|
|Garrick Higgo / Matt Wallace||+3000|