Turin is the next stop on our European rollercoaster and with the Players Championship moving dates in the US (which clashed last year) we've now got a slightly higher quality field in attendance with local favourites Matteo Mannassero and former winner Francesco Molinari heading the betting market. Italian golf has seen a resurgence of late with the Molinaris and Mannassero becoming increasingly prominent and as a result there's bound to be some vociferous support for the local boys this week.
This is our third successive visit to the Trent Jones Snr-designed Royal Park Golf Club, so we have a bit of recent history to analyse this week. The course is as a par 72, 7,200+ yard layout and the undulating tree-lined fairways and numerous water hazards demand an element of controlled driving if a player is going to keep out of trouble. However it's the putter which has won the day for the last 2 winners - Fredrik Andersson Hed needed just 101 putts last year to secure a 2-shot victory over David Horsey who had identical stats; 2009 winner Daniel Vancsik secured his 6-stroke victory by taking just 1.57 putts per GIR.
Here's how I'll be spending my 10 points this week:
Aussie Fraser is a player who interests me greatly here following an impressive performance at Wentworth a fortnight ago where a final round 67 catapulted him into the Each Way positions. Twice a winner on the European Tour, his latest win was in Korea a year ago on the tough Pinx GC layout - a course of similar length, style and greens albeit with a little more wind than we're expecting this week as the forecast is quite benign.
Strong from tee-to-green and with a warm putter (he led the way for overall putting at Wentworth), I can see Fraser going very close here on a course that will suit him down to the ground. Last week's missed cut in Wales can be ignored following his effort of the week before, and after a weekend off I'll expect a refreshed Fraser to feature very prominently this week at the top end of the leaderboard.
Fraser tops the European Predictor model for this week and I'm happy to back that up as my top selection at a very tasty price with Sky Bet. RESULT: T23
Followers of my tips will know that I'm not one to pick favourites for the sake of it, however in this instance having the teenage sensation on my team as a 'saver' bet makes great sense, particularly if you take advantage of the Extrabet offer and double the odds of your first bet up to a stake of £25 - click here for more details.
Mannassero is increasingly being touted as a future World number 1 in much the same way as Rory McIlroy has been over the last couple of years - however at 3 years Rory's junior, the Italian has already notched the same amount of wins as a professional and is undoubtedly a massive talent. This time last year Mannassero was making his debut in this event - he eventually finished a creditable 29th - however in the intervening 12 months he's leapt to 30th in the World and continues to rise. Whether he eventually makes it to the head of affairs remains to be seen, however there's no question he has the talent to get very close.
Matteo learnt his trade on the tight, tree-lined courses of Verona so this course will suit him down to the ground. There'll be those who suggest he's not long enough for this and, it's true to say, over the next couple of years he will begin to find a little more length off the tee that will ultimately help catapult him into superstardom. However this course is of similar length to Wentworth where he contended for 3 days and, with massive local support, I see no reason why Mannassero won't be contending for his 3rd win in the last 8 months. RESULT: T8
The 2 previous winners on this course put in a sublime week of putting to lift their respective trophies so, on that basis, picking a player with so much talent with the flat stick makes an awful lot of sense to me. The Welshman took his foot off the pedal last Sunday once any lingering hope of winning had gone so, to me, the bookies' move to push him out to 50/1 for this is too much of an over-reaction.
Despite his obvious talent, 26 year old Davies only has 1 professional victory to his name, although critically that came on another tree-lined, Trent Jones Snr layout in Morocco on similar bentgrass greens. Davies defended that title admirably a couple of months ago to ultimately finish as runner up - since then he's made 6 consecutive cuts, finishing in the top 20 twice including at Wentworth, and with a warm putter I think he could give some of the favourites a run for their money. RESULT: T15
To complete my selections I'm sticking with another Aussie who I think might feature at a long price. Scott Strange isn't the best-known of players, however with 2 huge wins under his belt at Celtic Manor in 2008 and in China in 2009, he shouldn't be disregarded in this class of event.
Strange is a tough player to predict and can spring to form seemingly out of the blue - both of his wins came off the back of indifferent spells of form, however perhaps crucially he had shown glimpses of good form on occasion in his previous half dozen or so events....likewise his tie for 4th in Dubai earlier this term was encouraging and I think you'll find this setup plays to his strengths. Much depends on his start and his career shows that Thursday often tends to be his best day, so a small wager on first round leader is also the play here in my opinion. RESULT: T67
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 21:00BST 7.6.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.