Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy lead the betting heading into the final round of the Italian Open. Ben Coley anticipates a thrilling Sunday.
Golf betting tips: Italian Open final round
- 3pts Rory McIlroy to win the Italian Open at 2/1 (Sky Bet)
- 2pts Nicolai Hojgaard to win his three-ball at 13/8 (Paddy Power)
For the second week in a row, Matt Fitzpatrick leads the Italian Open by a single shot with one round remaining.
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Fitzpatrick is the third-highest ranked player in a shallow field, with RORY MCILROY tied for second. Viktor Hovland hasn’t fired yet but is still in the mix, Tyrrell Hatton is ninth, and Lucas Herbert and Kurt Kitayama (fifth and seventh in the world rankings among this field) are tied for fourth.
All of this creates a Catch 22 situation for organizers. There’s no denying that McIlroy’s goal this week was to compete, ideally against someone like Fitzpatrick, so mission accomplished there. However, for the DP World Tour, this is a stark reminder that their ranks lag far behind those who also hold PGA Tour cards.
That much is obvious, but seeing it written so boldly across these leaderboards has been startling. Regardless, the stage is set for an exciting final round in the second of three tournaments at this course before it does what it was built to do and hosts the Ryder Cup next year.
Captain Luke Donald may be hoping for a good and prolonged spell of the wind that changed the complexion of this event on Saturday in September. When it blew, it really blew, emphasizing Marco Simone’s vulnerability, and it’s fortunate that players were turning for home and facing the easier nine holes when it did arrive.
Fitzpatrick was able to recoup his patience and take the lead from McIlroy, who made little progress. All three of the latter’s birdies came from within six feet, a distance he missed when giving up a shot and change at the par-five 12th, and it was reminiscent of last Sunday at Wentworth. The difference this time is that he will have the opportunity to make amends.
Aaron Rai (one back), Kitayama (two), Herbert (two), and Victor Perez (two) are all dangerous, as is Robert MacIntyre with a little more freedom, so there is room for a party pooper, which I hope isn’t Perez. It would be the Frenchman’s second victory this year if he wins a week after making pre-tournament selections, as he and MacIntyre did last week.
Herbert is the most decorated, and likely the most motivated, as he was disappointed to be left out of Trevor Immelman’s Presidents Cup squad despite having accomplished more than at least two team members. He reveled in the difficult third-round conditions, and his long-game is improving, so this dynamite putter is the one to watch if you believe the winner will be determined by a shot other than the final three-ball.
It’s a good draw for the latter pair, not only because they’re Spanish, but also because (ex-?) LIV defector Otaegui has the support of his country. However, Hojgaard has played much better than his score suggests, generally coping well with a marquee group and missing opportunities galore until late on Saturday, when he was unable to deal with the winds.
In terms of the best bet among the 26 groups, NICOLAI HOJGAARD has favorable conditions and can outgun the Spanish duo Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Adrian Otaegui (0846 BST).
Now that he’s out of contention and has a calm Sunday ahead of him, he can do what he did earlier in the tournament and remind us all how to attack Marco Simone – with as many drivers as possible sent as far as possible towards the green. Without wind, that appears to be the way to go here, and despite his increased speed and distance, Fitzpatrick will still find himself playing his approaches ahead of McIlroy.