Cabrera favourite at Telecom Italian Open
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2006 Italian Open | Preview | 03 May 2006
The European Tour is in Italy this week for the Telecom Italia Open (Italian Open) at the Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club just outside of Milan in the Lombardy region in the north of that country.
The tournament course was designed by Arnold Palmer in 1993 but has only played host to this event in the last two years. It contains Pencross bentgrass greens mixed with Poa.
The course measures some 7230 yards and the winning scores in the last two years have been 19 under (54 holes) when Graeme McDowell won in a playoff 2004 and 18 under when Steve Webster won by three shots in 2005.
This week sees the arrival of many of the Australian European Tour players who have played several of the co-sanctioned events in Asia and elsewhere earlier in the season but as the European Tour gets closer to its bigger events over the next few weeks, they are here to get their 2006 season underway in earnest.
The tournament favourite and the leading world ranked player in the field is the Argentine Angel Cabrera who led here after thirty six holes two years ago before being overtaken by Graeme McDowell in the final round to finish 4th. Cabrera played well at the Masters recently when 8th which included a brilliant last round of 68. He deserves to be the favourite.
Ricardo Gonzalez is yet another from the Argentine who is in good form at present although he has had no success here having missed the cut in his two appearances at this venue.
Anders Hansen has a good record here having been runner up and 9th at his only two starts at this course. He has lost his way a little in recent weeks but earlier in the season he was playing well and a return to a venue he obviously enjoys might just help.
Paul Broadhurst was a winner at his last tournament in Portugal over a month ago and was runner up in Qatar three months ago. He has had two solid finishes at this venue previously but if there is a factor counting against him it is the lengthy layoff.
Bradley Dredge was joint runner up here last year but like Broadhurst he has not played competitively for more than a month. He played solidly earlier in the season without threatening to win.
The defending champion Steve Webster has been a little out of form this season but he spent some time with Seve Ballesteros last week in Spain and was helped with his short game by arguably the game’s one time greatest in that department.
The Australians are headed by Richard Green who has had a long break since his last event at the Accenture Match Play. He played well early in the season and has played here previously but he might need a tournament or two to return to his best.
Peter O’Malley showed in China that he is returning to form. He had top ten finishes in both events there and, although he has not played at this venue previously, he tends to hold his form once he has found it. Last year was a disappointment for O’Malley but things appear to be getting better.
Wade Ormsby, Brett Rumford, Marcus Fraser, Peter Fowler, Matthew Millar and Stephen Scahill make up the rest of the Australasians.