The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open | Thursday 28 May - Sunday 31 May | Royal County Down Golf Club
The European Tour seems to be going from strength to strength as for the second week in a row a stellar field has assembled to participate in one of the Tour’s events. This time around most of the best players from the continent and a couple of big names from the PGA Tour have chosen to play the Irish Open, more than likely after a few words of encouragement by host Rory McIlroy. Unsurprisingly, the Northern Irishman arrives on home soil as firm favourite although after his missed cut last week it’s difficult to imagine anyone in their right mind taking some of the 3/1 available. Sure, he has a real chance of winning but against this field, which comprises of not only big European names but also the likes of Rickie Fowler (who recently won the Players) it seems ludicrous to back him at that price.
The course itself is incredibly picturesque but seems as dangerous as it is beautiful. In typical links fashion, the bunkers are horrendous, and anyone who finds himself in one of those traps will find it difficult to get out. The sand seems like a breeze to deal with compared to the rough. Thick long grass lines the fairways, threatening to swallow wayward tee shots and if players are unlucky enough to find themselves in it, odds are they wont find their ball. Even if they do, serious issues arise as getting out is easier said than done. At the best of times this is a difficult course to navigate so the field will be hoping that the wind doesn’t pick up, although if history proves correct we’re in for a blustery few days. So will Rory romp home at an old stomping ground of his? Let’s have a look.
To Win Outright
Rory McIlroy 3/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Sergio Garcia 14/1
Shane Lowry 18/1
Martin Kaymer 22/1
Shane Lowry (18/1 a win, 4/1 a place)
Shane Lowry almost made us a tidy profit last week when he finished T6 at Wentworth and I’m going to give him another chance and get involved again this week. He’s a bit of a links specialist and will be relishing the opportunity to return to his home continent and play a course that will suit his game perfectly. Given the fact that most bookies are expecting him to have shaken the rust off and perform better this week than last it’s not surprising that he’s available at such short odds as he looks one of the best bets in the field this week. I’m not going to miss out and will be backing him each way.
Chris Wood (35/1 a win, 77/10 a place)
Much like Shane Lowry, Chris Wood is a bit of a links specialist and his performances in the Open and Irish Open last year proved that. Although he hasn’t posted too many great results this season, stats wise he is one of the most consistent golfers on the Tour at the moment and that’s going to go a long way in ensuring that he avoids the many hazards that line this course. I’m hoping that consistency is rewarded this week. Each way is the bet for me.
Darren Clarke (250/1 a win, 55/1 a place)
Although Darren Clarke is getting a bit long in the tooth to be a serious challenger every time he tees off, he does still have a win or two left in him and as he starts gearing up for the Ryder Cup he’ll be keen to claim those sooner rather than later. He looked to be in decent shape last week at Wentworth and closed with a round of 66 which is nothing to sniff at on a tough course on a Sunday afternoon. Sure, he let himself down with a few wayward strikes but if he can avoid those this week he’ll be a real challenger.
Marc Warren (45/1 a win, 99/10 a place)
Until last year you could pretty much safely ignore Marc Warren every time he teed off but towards the middle of the 2013/2014 season something clicked and he really came into his own. A win in Denmark proved to be the perfect way for him to end his year last year and he seems to have picked up where he left off, with solid finishes in Qatar and at Wentworth. Warren seems to love links golf and will be eager to show that off in a tournament that everyone’s talking about. I’m certain Warren can challenge this week and will be backing him each way.