Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour's Italian open taking place at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.
2021/2022 DP World Tour
Marco Simone GC, Rome, Italy
I don’t think we could have possibly asked for a more thrilling end to last week’s flagship BMW PGA Championship. Sure, it does help that I picked the winner.
But regardless, it was a brilliant showcase where the cream certainly rose to the top. And the entire LIV backdrop was largely forgotten when the action started.
Lowry held off a surging McIlroy and a brilliant Rahm to claim his first title since claiming the 2019 Open Championship. A few big names- McIlroy included- have remained in Europe this week as the tour moves to Italy.
This should come as no surprise given this week’s venue- Marco Simone GC- will play host to next year’s Ryder Cup. Some of the elite players may want to get a look at the venue while others in the field will be looking to impress Luke Donald with a standout performance this week.
Dating all the way back to 1925, this is actually one of the oldest national opens in European golf. It has been a permanent fixture on the tour since its inception in 1972.
Marco Simone GC
This has traditionally been a nomadic event that showcases the many beautiful courses of Italy. But with Marco Simone GC hosting next year’s Ryder Cup- the DP World Tour has wisely chosen to back it back-to-back renewals at the Rome venue.
Designed by Jim Fazio and David Meccazane and opened in 1989, this traditional parkland layout has undergone significant renovations over the years.
This has obviously been in an attempt to prepare it for next year’s match-play extravaganza. But it got a pretty mixed reception last year. It is far more undulating than the original design and many of the green complexes are almost comically undulating.
Players will need to have their iron play dialled in when approaching these treacherous green complexes.
Rory McIlroy makes for a compelling favourite after narrowly missing out on a playoff last week. The Northern Irishman is a bastion of consistency and he will be desperate to convert one of his near-misses into victory this week.
There are a host of certain Ryder Cuppers who have joined King Rory this week. Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland will be looking to get to grips with what awaits next year’s huge biennial tournament.
The combustible Tyrell Hatton needs to get to grips with himself if he wishes to rediscover his best golf. And Italian icon Francesco Molinari will be looking to win his third national title after a solid showing at Wentworth last week.
2021: Nicolai Hojgaard (-13)
2020: Ross McGowan (-20)
2019: Bernd Wiesberger (-16)
2018: Thorbjorn Olesen (-22)
2017: Tyrell Hatton (-21)
To Win Outright:
Rory McIlroy 15/4 | Matt Fitzpatrick 10/1 | Viktor Hovland 12/1 | Tyrell Hatton 22/1 | Francesco Molinari 22/1
Min Woo Lee- To Win (35/1), To Place (15/2)
Min Woo Lee is a player who can drive you slightly crazy. He missed eight cuts on the US PGA Tour this year. Yet, he finished inside the top 30 in three of the four Majors. Just look at his outing in Wentworth last week. His first round of 76 was followed by a scintillating 62. The inconsistent Aussie has the capacity to shoot the lights out. The 2021 Scottish Open champion just looks worth the gander at 35/1. His price is hugely inflated this week with the likes of Rory and Fitzpatrick in the field. I just think he could draw some confidence from that crazy 62.
Rasmus Hojgaard- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1
Rasmus Hojgaard will be looking to replicate his brother’s success at last year’s Italian Open. Hojgaard already has three DP World Tour titles and seems primed for Ryder Cup contention. McIlroy even referred to him in his summation of young up-and-coming European players. He finished 10th in quality company at the Scottish Open. He then opened with a 63 at Made in HimmerLand before petering out as it went along. But three rounds in the 60’s were enough for another top 20 finish at Wentworth last week. He did ok last year, finishing 18th a week after claiming the European Masters title. I think he will be hugely motivated to show his worth with Ryder Cup qualification well and truly underway.
The Man to Beat- Francesco Molinari- To Win 22/1 | To Place 48/10
I think I can give good reasons to swerve all the main contenders. But there is something about Molinari that catches the eye this week. Firstly, the former Open champion has amazing credentials in his home country. He has won this event on two different courses and finished runner-up on a 3rd. He is just about getting back to his best following terrible back issues. He finished in the top 10 last week and another strong showing this week could put him in a strong Ryder Cup position.