Francesco Molinari is the only Italian to win the national Open of Italy since 1985. Matteo Manassero is the youngest player in the history of the European Tour to win four tournaments. Both players will have huge local support in Turin this week, but Simon Dyson has the profile to spoil the party by winning the Italian Open.
The event is being played at the Golf Club Torino which is debuting on the European Tour, so there is no course form to assess. The track is relatively tight and tree-lined which puts a premium on accuracy. At just over 7,200 yards in length it won’t give the big hitters a comparative advantage over the rest of the field.
All but one of the par-5s will be reachable in two shots by most of the field, which means there will be plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities. Birdie conversion more than bogey avoidance will be key to good scoring. Even so, finding the fairways and greens in the correct number of shots will be important attributes and good course management will also be significant.
Since the start of the millennium there have been two multiple winners in Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Ian Poulter, who have both won the tournament twice. That will provide some encouragement to Molinari as he looks to back up his win in 2006. However, he has missed his last two cuts and Manassero’s current form is no better than average.
At just 20 years of age Manassero already looks a future major champion and he has won a tournament in each of the last four years. His win in the BMW Championship, the flagship event of the European Tour, is the best form of any player in the field. However, Dyson is a proven winner now playing at the level that saw him win twice in 2011.
This is the first time he’s entered the Italian Open since 2010 but all the evidence suggests he will have a better week than three years ago when he retired after the first round. Dyson has the best current form of the entire field and is currently in the top 30 for both accuracy disciplines. Given a good week on the greens he looks a leading contender in Italy.
A more speculative selection would be Emiliano Grillo from Argentina. At just 21 he is another exciting young prospect. He needs a good tournament to stand a chance of making the playoffs and he has the form and game to figure this week. However, Dyson’s greater experience and past success gives him an edge and winning opportunity at this level.
Follow Ian Hudson on Twitter at @RockIan62 or visit his website at www.ianhudsonsport.co.uk.