Garcia To Rise To Irish Open Challenge
The Irish Open takes place this week at Royal County Down Golf Club, with local man Rory McIlroy the inevitable favourite.
The only European Tour event held in Ireland, the Irish Open dates back to 1927. It has been played at a number of different Irish courses, and has been moved around the calendar in recent years, but it still attracts one of the largest attendances for any European Tour event.
Only six non-Europeans have ever won it, the last of those being Australian Brett Rumford in 2004.
Royal County Down Golf Club is one of the oldest clubs in Ireland and has hosted a number of significant events, although this will be the first time the Irish Open has been staged there since 1939.
It’s a testing par-71 links course of just under 7200 yards, arranged between towering sand dunes, unforgiving rough and deep bunkers, with frequent wind direction changes adding to the challenge.
In The Bunker
This will be the first year in which the Irish Open is hosted by the Rory Foundation, and unsurprisingly the man himself is top of the antepost betting at typically miniscule odds.
At his best he can clearly walk away with pretty much any tournament on the planet, but he doesn’t have a great record at the Irish Open, and he missed the cut at Wentworth last week, so I don’t feel inclined to back him at 10/3.
Sergio Garcia hasn’t played this event since 2000 but he won it in 1999 at only his second attempt and I think he offers a touch of value this week.
He hasn’t had a spectacular 2015 but there have been promising signs of form, including a second at the Players Championship a fortnight ago. His big driving and scrambling skills give him a better chance than most to tame this course and he’s a solid bet at 14/1.
Since this event was included in the European Tour there have been four Irish winners, and the latest of those, Shane Lowry, is worth a look.
That victory came as an amateur in 2009, but he also has a fifth-placed finish to his name in 2013, and more importantly, goes into this event in decent form, having recovered from a poor first round at Wentworth to finish sixth. One of the best links players on the Tour, he should be in his element this week and is a good bet at odds of 22/1.
It could also pay to stick with Francesco Molinari this week. His second behind James Morrison at the Open de Espana was a notable return to form and if it wasn’t for a poor final round at Wentworth, he would have finished a lot closer than fifth last week.
He’s made the top ten in this event on three occasions and in his current form is a decent bet to win this for the first time at 28/1.
*Prices correct at time of publication.