Drop on to Kof in Italy

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn)
  • Last Updated: September 16 2013, 16:59 BST

David John thinks Espen Kofstad can cause a 200/1 surprise with a big display this week at the Open d'Italia Lindt.

Kofstad: Hugely positive memories of playing in Italy
Kofstad: Hugely positive memories of playing in Italy

We are at the home course of the Molinari brothers this week for the 70th renewal of the Open d'Italia Lindt.

Having spent the last four years at the Royal Park Roveri I, we now switch to Golf Club Torino - which Francesco Molinari says is "where I feel at home".

Alas we only have one of the brothers after Edoardo was ruled out for the rest of the season last month having undergone surgery on a left thumb injury that has plagued him for much of 2013.

I am sure he will be around though to cheer on his brother and the rest of the Italian contingent - I feel that Francesco will be inspired by Joost Luiten's exploits in his own home open last week at Kennemer as he seeks to lift the trophy for a second time in his career.

However, he will need some sort of gee-up as his form since a top-10 at the Open Championship in July has been well below what we have come to expect from a player who churns out the good performances with metronomic consistency.

I will not be taking any of the current best price of 16s on offer.

This year's venue is similar, but considered to be a bit tougher than Royal Park - both were used in the 2008 Piemonte Open on the Challenge Tour.

Last year's runner-up Garth Mulroy said the area felt very much like playing in South Africa and with that in mind I am going to take a punt on his compatriot Hennie Otto.

Otto is a former of winner of this tournament in 2008 but his European Tour card for 2014 is in some jeopardy as he sits 119th on the Race To Dubai with the top 110 guaranteed safety.

He looked on course to sort things out at the KLM Open with a four-birdie salvo early in his final round but an eight and a seven derailed any chance of a big cheque and a significant move up the rankings.

Otto has had well documented problems with controlling his temper and when things start to go wrong, the wheels can come off in spectacular fashion.

But with a lovely forecast in Turin this week - similar to back home for Otto - and a three-figure price on offer, he looks well worth a chance to get his act together and "take care of business" as Tiger Woods might say.

Of the more fancied runners, I like Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 40/1.

The Spaniard secured a top-10 in this event 12 months ago and arrives on a solid if unspectacular run of form.

But he did talk recently about his game being close to where he knows it can be and that bodes well heading into the autumn and some big events.

He also spoke of how getting into the mix in major company during both the Open Championship and USPGA recently has given him plenty of confidence to build on and an event of this nature is clearly well within his compass.

At slightly bigger odds, the improving Emiliano Grillo also looks capable of playing a part at 60/1.

The big-hitting Argentine is not without prospects of making the all-important top 60 on the Race To Dubai (currently 91st) after a recent good spell that should at the very least ensure he is playing in 2014.

Three top-18s from his last four outings has secured him over €100,000 to boost his financial position considerably which means he can turn his considerable talents to winning rather than just survival.

A top-25 in Italy last year is a positive as well and now looks the time for him to improve on his best on the European Tour of a T5 secured last back end in Perth.

Finally, I picked Thorbjorn Olesen in this event a couple of years ago at 200/1 on the way to a runner-up finish and if there is to be a similar surprise at those odds from a Scandinavian it could be Espen Kofstad.

The Norwegian has been troubled by some injuries in the first part of the campaign which has hindered his ability to practice enough.

The courses have been tough to adjust to as well for him but there have been signs lately that things are going in a positive direction - an opening 64 in Wales and more recently three rounds in the 60s in tough conditions in Holland.

What really makes Kofstad appealing is his record in Italy.

He was a dual winner in the country 12 months ago on the way to topping the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, one of the titles coming in the prestigious Apulia San Domenico Grand Final to round off the year.

"I love the food and climate (in Italy) and seem to cope well with the greens," he said and much like Olesen in 2011, a return to the county can only be a massive boost as he bids to move up from a very precarious 140th in the Race To Dubai.

He has just one top-10 finish this year (in Spain) but two top-25s from four events lately is a step in the right direction while he has also admitted that he does tend to come good at this time of the season - that is important.

"I have been in the rough a lot this year. Now I am in the middle of the fairway and the middle of the green and I am giving myself good chances, " he added.

This looks a a good chance as well for punters to to get him while he trades at these sort of odds.

  • Preview posted at 1700 BST on 16/09/2013.