Rocco Forte Open: Heisele can continue good form

Rocco Forte Open: Heisele can continue good form

After tipping the winner of GolfSixes for the second year running, attention switches to an event which provided our biggest success to date, Phil Casey writes.

Ireland beat another of our tips, the 50/1 England Women’s team of Charley Hull and Georgia Hall in the quarter-finals, another selection South Korea in the semi-finals and then did the decent thing by beating France as well to land the 18/1 at Centurion Club.

But that was nothing compared to Alvaro Quiros winning the Rocco Forte Open last year at 100/1, the Spaniard almost blowing a seven-shot lead in the final round before beating Zander Lombard in a play-off.

The tournament made its debut on the European Tour schedule last year, although it is essentially a revival of the Sicilian Open and is again being played at the same Verdura Resort where Thorbjorn Olesen won the last staging before the renewal in 2012.

The composite par-71 layout combines holes from the venue’s two courses, with the final six holes set against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

With plenty of room off the tee the course’s main defence is the wind, without which there were two 61s in the opening round, a 62 and three 63s, while even former Masters champion Mike Weir was able to make his first halfway cut since November 2014.

One of those 63s came from Germany’s Sebastian Heisele and although he could only finish 31st, the 29-year-old is our first selection at 80/1.

Heisele had to regain his European Tour card via the qualifying school for the second year running in November, despite recording two top-four finishes and three top-20s.

But so far this season he was eighth in Qatar and fourth on the Challenge Tour in Turkey 10 days ago and can be backed to continue that form in the each-way market.

Our next selection is another player who should be suited by the venue, Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard having won his first European Tour title on a resort course in Portugal last year.

After a string of missed cuts, Bjerregaard found some form with closing rounds of 66 and 64 in the Volvo China Open and although he and Olesen could not defend their GolfSixes title, they were only denied a place in the quarter-finals via a play-off.

With Olesen second favourite at 16/1, Bjerregaard is preferred each-way at a more appealing 55/1.

In a relatively weak field, small each-way bets can also be advised on the English pair of Tom Lewis (80/1) and Nathan Kimsey (125/1), who both played well in Turkey.

Former amateur star Lewis won his sole European Tour title to date in 2011 and won’t mind windy conditions, while Kimsey is looking to reproduce the form which saw him win the qualifying school in 2016.

And finally, it would seem rude not to take the 30/1 on offer for defending champion Quiros, who was second in Morocco three weeks ago.