Where to watch
Sky Sports Golf, 9am Thursday
Adri Arnaus to win first-round threeball
2pts 23-20 BoyleSports
Enrico Di Nitto first-round leader
1pt each-way 250-1 general
Two-time Italian Open winner Francesco Molinari starts his hat-trick bid at 7.30am UK and Ireland time on Thursday, teeing off alongside Shane Lowry and Matt Wallace in the marquee morning threeball at Olgiata Golf Club, Rome.
The top-class trio can all be expected to play well in a tight contest, before the afternoon focus falls on the threeball comprising Justin Rose, Danny Willett and Andrea Pavan. Local man Pavan is a shade of value as the outsider in that high-noon gathering, but a safer bet is Adri Arnaus to defeat Matteo Manassero and Mikko Korhonen in the 11.20am match.
Arnaus has fully established himself on the European Tour in an impressive rookie campaign, featuring on several leaderboards, most recently when finishing fourth in the Spanish Open last Sunday. His ball-striking is already at an extremely high standard and a tough tee-to-green layout like Olgiata holds no fears for him.
Arnaus won two titles in Italy on the Alps Tour in 2017 – both when still an amateur – and will have been relishing his Italian Open debut. Manassero is world number 1,162 and needed a sponsors’ invitation to access this field as his game has completely fallen apart. Korhonen is a tougher opponent but Arnaus, who opened with a 65 in Madrid last week, is much preferred.
First-round-leader punters are pointed towards Enrico Di Nitto, who tees off at 7am UK and Ireland time at his home track. His course knowledge will be seen to best effect in round one and bright recent form indicates that Di Nitto could get off to a flyer in a low-key threeball with Kim Koivu and Lee Slattery.
The 26-year-old Roman won on the Alps Tour in his home city at the end of July and he fired a pair of 63s in the Cervino Open a month ago, so 250-1 about him setting the early Italian Open pace is worth taking. Punters need to place their bet before 6.30am on Thursday.
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