Open D’Italia: Who’ll walk tall in Milan?

South Africa's Hennie Otto is defending champion at the Golf Club Milano

Hennie Otto defends Open D'Italia
Hennie Otto defends Open D'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The European Tour heads to Milan this week for the Open D’Italia presented by DAMIANI. Hennie Otto of South Africa defends at Golf Club Milano.

A strong field has assembled to contest this prestigious event: A mixture of on-form European Tour players and star names. Amongst those teeing it up are Major champions Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington and Martin Kaymer. 2016 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will also play.

The home nation will be well represented with Matteo Manassero, Marco Crespi, Francesco Molinari, Edoardo Molinari and young Renato Paratore heading the Italian challenge.

It’s the 72nd running of this historic tournament. 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 Hennie Otto held off charges by David Howell and Stephen Gallacher to win by two shots. It was a second victory in the tournament for the South African – he also triumphed in 2008.

The event is returning to the Golf Club Milano for the first time since 1990. 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 like it could be a little troublesome at the start of the tournament. Thunderstorms are a real possibility on both Thursday and Friday and these could well disrupt play.

Venue: Golf Club Milano, Parco Reale di Monza, Italy Date: Sep 17-20 Course stats: par 72, 7,159 yards Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €250,000 Defending Champion: Hennie Otto (-20)

TV Coverage: Thursday 17 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am Friday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am Saturday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm Sunday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm

Player watch: Eddie Pepperell – The talented Englishman has been enjoying a good season and he comes into this event on the back of a top-five finish in the KLM Open last week.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – He’s been struggling to finish off tournaments in recent months and he let another chance slip away last week in Holland. But he’s clearly playing well and if he can put it all together he’ll be a contender again this time out.

Cabrera Bello gets a trick shot lesson:

Danny Willett – This is his first European Tour start since the USPGA Championship but the Englishman still lies second on the 2015 Race to Dubai. He won the European Masters in Switzerland over a course that demands precision and accuracy, the layout this week should present a relatively similar test.

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?