The Italian Open or Open D’Italia, was first played in 1925 and has been a permanent fixture on the European Tour schedule since its creation in 1972. The Italian Open was added to the tour’s Rolex Series of premier events in 2017, securing an annual prize pot of $7 million, though the tournament dropped out of the reduced series for 2020.
A total of 26 courses have hosted the Italian Open over the years with clubs in Rome, Milan, Turin and a number of other cities playing their part.
Numerous home grown players have triumphed here, the first of which being Francesco Pasquali who won the very first tournament when it was played at the Alpino de Stressa. The latest Italian Champion was Francesco Molinari who was victorious in both 2006 and 2016.
|Chervo Golf Club||Brescia, Italy||7,434 Yards||€1,000,000|
Nobody has escaped the challenges of 2020 but in the world of golf some tournaments have been able to weather the storm better than others. The Italian Open is, unfortunately, one of the big losers, with the shunting around of the European Tour schedule meaning that the event has lost its Rolex Series status. It is only recently that the Italian Open was given the go ahead to take place at all though, with Chervo Golf Club stepping in at short notice to host this historic tournament for the first time.
One of the reasons Chervo was able to hold the Italian Open is that it is a resort golf course and, as such, has facilities for European Tour players and support staff to remain in the strict bubble that follows the tour wherever it goes. Life in the bubble is often challenging but the players should at least get some respite when out on the course. At 7,434 yards it’s not long enough to seriously worry the calibre of players teeing it up this week even it is fairly long for a course that typically hosts holidaymakers.
Chervo Golf Club is a popular venue and will look stunning on TV. Behind that stunning facade, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of a bite and so we should be in for some low scores. Save for some well-placed penalty areas and the presence of water, this does look to be a very gettable golf course. It is largely flat and the landing areas off the tee are generous by the standards of the European Tour. The high quality of the course extends to the greens which will roll true this week even if they come up a little slower than top level touring pros are used to.
Italian Open Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2020||Ross McGowen||Chervo Golf Club||-20||1 Stroke|
|2019||Bernd Wiesberger||Olgiata Golf Club||-16||1 Stroke|
|2018||Thorbjorn Olesen||Gardagolf Country Club||-22||1 Stroke|
|2017||Tyrrell Hatton||Golf Club Milano||-21||1 Stroke|
|2016||Francesco Molinari||Golf Club Milano||-22||1 Stroke|
|2015||Rikard Karlberg||Golf Club Milano||-19||Playoff|
|2014||Hennie Otto||Circolo Golf Torino||-20||2 Strokes|
|2013||Julien Quesne||Circolo Golf Torino||-12||1 Stroke|
|2012||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Royal Park I Roveri||-24||2 Strokes|
|2011||Robert Rock||Royal Park I Roveri||-21||1 Stroke|
About the Italian Open
Since the European Tour was officially founded in 1972, the Italian Open has been a part of the tour. The tournament has also been a European Tour Rolex series event since 2017. However, it was around way before then, with the first edition being played at Golf Club Alpino di Stresa back in 1925.
The event has taken place on various golf courses throughout Italy over the years. The Circolo Golf Villa d’Este has hosted a record 12 Italian Opens, although the last time it was held on the Montorfano course was in 1972. The Italian Open has also been held at the Golf Club Milano, Golf Club Monticello and Golf Club Castello Tolcinasco, among a number of others.
Several big names have won this competition over the years, including Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer and home favourite Francesco Molinari. Auguste Boyer and Flory Van Donck jointly hold the record for the most wins of the event with four victories apiece.
Boyer & Van Donck Level on Four
Only two players have won the Italian Open more than twice. Several have a couple of wins to their names, including Francesco Molinari, Hennie Otto, Bernhard Langer and Ian Poulter; but Auguste Boyer and Flory Van Donck are ahead of the game with their four victories each.
Boyer won the second Italian Open way back in 1926, adding a second title two years later. The Frenchman then won back-to-back tournaments in 1930 and 1931. Each of his last three victories came at Villa d’Este, with the first coming at Alpino di Stresa.
Seven years after Boyer’s fourth and final victory, Flory Van Donck picked up the first of his four titles. The Belgian won again in 1947 before securing triumphs in 1953 and 1955.
Multiple Winner of the Italian Open – 1925 to 2019
|1926, 1928, 1930, 1931||Auguste Boyer|
|1938, 1947, 1953, 1955||Flory Van Donck|
|1927, 1935||Percy Alliss|
|1950, 1954||Ugo Grappasonni|
|1984, 1992||Sandy Lyle|
|1987, 1995||Sam Torrance|
|1983, 1997||Bernhard Langer|
|2000, 2002||Ian Poulter|
|2007, 2012||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano|
|2008, 2014||Hennie Otto|
|2006, 2016||Francesco Molinari|
Molinari’s Second Win Ten Years On
Since the Italian Open became a European Tour event, only three Italians have won the tournament. The first of those was Baldovino Dassu, who won by eight strokes in 1976. Four years later, Massimo Mannelli won the 1980 Italian Open.
In recent times, Francesco Molinari has been the most successful Italian player. The first of his two titles came in the 63rd edition in 2006. The Turin man beat Anders Hansen and Jarmo Sandelin by four strokes at Golf Club Castello Tolcinasco in Milan.
Ten years after winning at Castello Tolcinasco, Molinari finished top of the pile once again. Francesco went on to seal a single-stroke win over English ace Danny Willett. Two of his six European Tour wins have come on home soil.
Molinari almost won the Italian Open for a third time in 2018. Unfortunately for him, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen edged out the home favourite by just one stroke at Gardagolf Country Club in Brescia, leaving Molinari with the runners-up medal. The Italian got over the disappointment rather quickly however: the following month Molinari won The Open Championship at Carnoustie, becoming the first Italian to win a major in the process. He beat the likes of Rory McIlroy by two shots with the great Tiger Woods a further shot back.
Poulter Wins in 2000 and 2002
Ian Poulter is a two-time Italian Open champion. In fact, Poulter and Percy Alliss are the only Englishmen to have won this tournament more than once, with Scots Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance the other Brits to have also picked up two Italian Open championships.
Poulter’s first victory came in 2000 when the Hertfordshire man was just 22 years old. Poulter became only the second man from England to win this event in 10 years, claiming a single-stroke victory over Scottish star Gordon Brand Jnr. That was his first European Tour victory.
Poulter was at it again two years later, this time winning at Olgiata. Despite rain shortening play to 54 holes, the English ace got the better of Scot Paul Lawrie by two strokes to claim his second Italian Open crown.
Low Scores Prevail
As with many professional golf tournaments, a winning score of 20 under par or better is not an uncommon sight at the Italian Open. In fact, since Bernhard Langer won the event with a score of 17 under par in 1983, the winning score has only been worse than 10 under par on two occasions: when Jim Payne won with nine under par in 1996 and Craig Parry won with the same score in 1991.
Italian Open Winning Scores of 20 Under Par or Better – 2000 to 2019
|Year||Player||Score (To Par)|
|2018||Thorbjørn Olesen||262 (-22)|
|2017||Tyrrell Hatton||263 (-21)|
|2016||Francesco Molinaro||262 (-22)|
|2014||Hennie Otto||268 (-20)|
|2012||Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño||262 (-24)|
|2011||Robert Rock||267 (-21)|
|2008||Hennie Otto||263 (-25)|
|2006||Francesco Molinaro||265 (-23)|
|2001||Gregory Havret||268 (-20)|
|2000||Ian Poulter||267 (-21)|
Previous Italian Open Courses
Olgiata Golf Club
|Olgiata Golf Club||Rome, Italy||7,523 Yards||$7,000,000|
Before the 2019 Italian Open the Olgiata Golf Club hadn’t been used by the European Tour since 2002 when Ian Poulter won the Italian Open. It had however been used multiple times on the Challenge Tour in the intervening years.
Olgiata is an exclusive golf club at which members pay a high premium to ensure it remains in tip top condition. Visitors here will find immaculate fairways and greens but those who played it some years back will need to get their heads around the changes that were made some years ago as part of Italy’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Olgiata is long for a par 71 at a maximum of 7,523 yards but also demands a certain amount of accuracy off the tee as it’s a classic looking tree-lined layout.