Molinari defends Italian Open against strong field

It's the fifth tournament in the European Tour's lucrative Rolex Series

Francesco Molinari defends Italian Open
Francesco Molinari defends Italian Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari is defending Italian Open champion at Golf Club Milano but he will face strong competition from a field that includes many of Europe’s leading players.

As the fifth event in the European Tour’s 2017 Rolex Series, the Italian Open carries an enhanced prize fund of $7,000,000 and has attracted a world-class field.

Francesco Molinari is defending champion and some big names will be looking to join the impressive list of champions in this historic tournament. Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia will tee it up, together with Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood. Alex Noren, Ross Fisher, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are among the other star attractions set to start at Golf Club Milano.

Tommy Fleetwood swing sequence:

It’s the 74th running of this prestigious event. It was first contested in 1925 when Francesco Pasquali took the title. Since then many famous players have triumphed in the event, they include Sir Henry Cotton, Peter Thomson, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman and Sandy Lyle.

Last year Francesco Molinari was a popular, home champion. The Italian came through a great battle against then Masters champion Danny Willett to take the title for a second time – he also triumphed in 2006.

The Golf Club Milano will play host to the event for a third year running. It’s a tricky, tree-lined track that will test the players’ accuracy, particularly from the tee. Straight driving will be at a premium this week.

The weather looks set fair for the week. It should be warm and there should be no interruptions to play.

Venue: Golf Club Milano, Parco Reale di Monza, Italy Date: Oct 12-15 Course stats: par 71, 7,156 yards Purse: $7,000,000 Defending champion: Francesco Molinari (-22)

TV Coverage: Thursday 12 – Sky Sports Golf from 9am Friday 13 – Sky Sports Golf from 9am Saturday 14 – Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am Sunday 15 – Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am

Player Watch:

Paul Dunne – He’s been on tremendous form towards the end of the season, winning the British Masters and then securing another top-10 in the Dunhill. His game looks good and there’s no reason that shouldn’t continue this week.

Ross Fisher – Also heading into the event with confidence from St Andrews; Fisher was second in the Dunhill Links for a second year running.

Marc Warren – The Scot has been on a great run of form – Second in Portugal, tied 15th in the British Masters and tied fourth in the Dunhill. He’ll look to keep that run going in Italy to secure his place in the top-60 on the Race to Dubai and earn a spot in the DP World Tour Championship.

Key hole: 14th. It’s a par-5 measuring only just over 500 yards, so this should be a significant birdie, even eagle chance. It’s a dog-leg to the right with two well-placed bunkers on the corner. The longer hitters will be able to clear these unless there’s a breeze into their faces. If this is achieved it will leave just an iron into the green.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?