Italian Open: Steve Palmer's second-round golf tips & first-round analysis – Racing Post

Matthew Fitzpatrick has an excellent record in Italy

Andrew Redington

Where to watch

Sky Sports Golf, 9am Friday

Best bets

Matthew Fitzpatrick to win threeball
2pts 5-4 Hills


Ante-post 250-1 chance Tapio Pulkkanen led the way after the first round of the Italian Open, the flying Finn firing a seven-under-par 64 and shortening to 20-1 in the process.

Pulkkanen, a 29-year-old who won on the Challenge Tour in 2017 and is yet to make his European Tour breakthrough, made seven birdies in a flawless opening effort at Olgiata GC, Rome.

Matthew Fitzpatrick did best of the more fancied runners on the opening morning, a 67 laying a strong foundation for the week ahead, and the Englishman can be fancied to forge forward on Friday.

Fitzpatrick is a solid wager to outscore his playing partners Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer for the second day running. Poulter has been shown plenty of respect by the layers this week because he won the previous Italian Open at Olgiata, but the layout has been changed since that 2002 gathering and Fitzpatrick, in fact, has the more compelling course credentials.

Fitzpatrick finished seventh in the 2014 Challenge Tour event staged at Olgiata and the track is set up similar to how it was for that tournament.

He beat both Poulter and Kaymer by five shots in round one, and odds-against about a repeat success seems generous. Fitzpatrick has been playing consistently well this season, finishing runner-up four times, and Olgiata is a course which suits him well.

Justin Rose also got off to an excellent start, the former world number one making superb afternoon headway on the back nine, carding a 66 to assume favouritism.

Joost Luiten and Shubhankar Sharma are two dangerous European Tour champions who opened with a round of 66, while Matt Wallace and Andrea Pavan can be expected to build on their Thursday 69s.

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