Hennie looking for form in Italy again

Hennie Otto won in Italy in 2008, and he goes back to that happy hunting ground this week as the European Tour pulls into Turin for the BMW Italian Open at Royal Park I Roveri.

Otto’s victory was a superb one, as he pulled off one of his trademark runaway train performances with a final score of 25-under-par.

Extraordinarily, it was enough for just a single-stroke margin over Oliver Wilson, with Robert Karlsson one shot further back.

While Otto’s form in Europe this year hasn’t been all he would have wished it to be, he has the luxury of knowing that all the big guns have migrated to the United States ahead of the year’s second major as the US Open gets underway at Congressional Golf Club in Maryland.

But he will still have the likes of Colin Montgomerie to contend with, and the victorious Ryder Cup captain has been showing signs of returning to something resembling his imposing best recently.

And the strength of the challenge posed by the likes of Francesco Molinari and Thomas Bjorn cannot be underestimated, while defending champion Fredrik Andersson Hed, Soren Kjeldsen and Darren Clark have also been playing well lately.

But it’s likely to be the teenaged Matteo Manassero who will be the most difficult player to overcome. He has already won twice on the European Tour, and his game seems to become ever more bullet proof. A home victory is probably a powerful incentive for him this week.

Otto will also have South African company: Jbe’ Kruger has a sponsor’s invitation into the tournament, and he showed signs of a return to form in patches in last week’s Sunshine Tour event in Swaziland. He can’t be too far away from a maiden victory outside the Sunshine Tour.

George Coetzee and Shaun Norris have got into the tournament too, as has Michiel Bothma on the strength of his Challenge Tour victory earlier in the year.

The event gets underway on Thursday.

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