Who our statistic guru is tipping for success at Golf Club Milano.
We’re in Milan for the Italian Open where Golf Club Milano will play host for the third straight year and ninth time in the tournament’s history.
With the event now part of the Rolex Series, a strengthened field including Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood will be vying to add some Race to Dubai points to their season tallies, with just six events remaining.
As far as the course goes, expect birdies and lots of them. Golf Club Milano is the easiest course on the European Tour in terms of scoring, with an average score close to two under par. With tight driving lanes and small greens, the key this week is accuracy from the tee, managing the course and converting birdie chances. Players’ short games shouldn’t be tested too much with the course ranking the easiest on Tour in Scrambling (64.4 per cent) as well as Three Putts (1.7 per cent).
With all that in mind, here’s who our statistics specialist believes could perform well.
Pick of the favourites: Matt Fitzpatrick
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick arrives in Milan on the back of three strong performances: a win at the Omega European Masters and top 15s at the British Masters and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The 23 year old seems to do well on shorter, tighter layouts and has shown that here, shooting par or better in all eight of his rounds at Golf Club Milano. His scoring average of 67.6 over the last two years is third best behind only defending champion Francesco Molinari and 2015 winner Rikard Karlberg. Fitzpatrick has ranked in the top ten in both Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation in each of his last two starts and has said in recent interviews how much he enjoys the layout of this week’s course. He finished third here on his debut two years ago and tied 16th last year, despite a frustrating level par final round. His game appears to have turned the corner and the Sheffield native could be on the verge of an extremely strong finish to the season, continuing this week perhaps?
Form horse: Martin Kaymer
Few players will be more eager to return to the Italian Open than Martin Kaymer, with the German having finished in the top 20 at this event in all four of his appearances. A runner-up finish in his debut at Golf Club Milano two years ago showed just how suited he is to the place, and the fact that he has broken par in all 15 rounds at this tournament should make him an attractive addition to your Fantasy teams. Of all the players in the field with more than ten rounds played at this event, Kaymer leads in both Scoring Average (67.7) and Scoring vs the Field Average (-2.3). With fairways proving crucial this week, the 32 year old should thrive as he is enjoying a career-best season in terms of fairways, finding the short grass more than two-thirds of the time. He has eight top 25s finishes so far in 2017 but only two top fives. Don’t be surprised if the latter statistic reads three come Sunday night in Milan.
Wildcard: Nacho Elvira
The highly-regarded Nacho Elvira is yet to win on the European Tour despite coming very close, including a third place finish here 12 months ago. Despite missing the cut last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Elvira should be confident having finished in the top 20 six times in his previous seven starts. The 30 year is a powerful player and hits a lot of greens. Whilst there’s room for improvement in his putting (the Spaniard is ranking 93rd in Putts per GIR and 129th in Putts per Round this season), the greens at Golf Club Milano are some of the easiest on Tour and lend themselves to someone like Elvira. He ranked seventh in Putts per GIR here last year, needing just 1.64 for every green he hit. With 22 birdies here on his debut, it will be interesting to see how Elvira does on his second outing at Golf Club Milano.