The Rocco Forte Open makes its debut on the European Tour this week. After Challenge Tour players had the chance to win their card in the big leagues at the Open de Portugal last week, this Rocco Forte Open provides another big opportunity to some of the European game’s lesser lights.
Once again, we’ve got a pretty weak field to work with this week. That’s no big surprise as there are a number of factors at play. For one, this is a brand new tournament (although more on that later) then there’s the relatively low prize money on offer and the lure of next week’s BMW PGA Championship which every player wants to be fit and healthy for. But, somebody’s got to win whether that’s one of the veterans in the field looking to get back to their best or a young player hoping to follow in the footsteps of Matt Wallace who won in Portugal.
While this is technically a new tournament, many people will see it as a continuation of the Sicilian Open. That event took place at the same venue, Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily and served as a major platform for 2012 champion Thorbjorn Olesen and Chris Wood who finished second five years ago.
Just like the previous two times the European Tour visited Verdura, the course for this week’s championship is a composite of the two layouts at the hotel. So there is a little bit of previous course form to go on. We know, for example, that the course is exposed to the elements and that its description as a links venue has been borne out with Olesen and others at the top of the leaderboard going on to prove their links credentials. We also know that the fairly generous fairways allow the bigger hitters the chance to maximise their power off the tee and that scrambling to avoid bogeys will be important.
Improving Manassero Can Be a Major Player
It remains to be seen how many fans turn out for this week’s festivities but you can be sure that those golf-lovers who are in attendance will be hoping for a big week for Matteo Manassero. The 24-year-old Italian is the youngest ever winner on the European Tour but instead of kicking on, he’s struggled to make a real impact on the tour in recent years.
Manassero fans have had reason to be cheerful over recent months though. He played very well for Italy at the GolfSixes event and has not missed a cut since the Qatar Masters. At 33/1 with Bet365, Manassero may well be able to kick on and return to winning ways against this calibre of opposition.
Horsey’s Wind Prowess a Big Plus
Life on the European Tour is tough if you don’t regularly compete towards the top of the leaderboard. Motivation is difficult to come by when you’re struggling with your game as David Horsey can testify. The 32-year-old has four European Tour wins but performances have been harder to come by of late.
This could be the perfect place for Horsey’s luck to change. At his best he is a class above this field and he’s got strong pedigree in the wind which makes him worth an each way play at 50/1 with Betfred.