The first day of the Irish Open at Lahinch is well underway with Shane Lowry currently leading the Irish contingent after an opening round of 66.
As the first round of hopefuls have been working their way through the Clare golf course, Thursday’s OTB AM heard from John Duggan who is down at the course and Keith Wood who played it on Wednesday to get an insight into what golfers should expect over the coming days.
Duggan had picked his favourites for the tournament earlier in the week and reiterated that the winner will need to be someone who enjoys playing links courses and has done regularly.
“It’s interesting, even Pádraig Harrington was talking about it in the press conference that when you play links golf courses, and he's played them all his life, you need to play it a few times to get back into the groove of it.”
After a walk of the course yesterday, Duggan explained that the course is more about "touch" than bombing the ball as far as possible.
“Some of the holes are tricky and I think it needs a little bit of savvy and intelligence to get around the front nine. I think the second nine is easier, the only par fives are on the back nine including the 18th."
Duggan added that Shane Lowry was the “form horse” of the Irish golfers in the tournament, a claim that proved true as he sits four-under par.
When asked why Louis Oosthuizen, many people’s favourite for the tournament, was such a high price to win the tournament, Duggan explained that although the South African is a top tier golfer he simply has not won enough on the European tour.
Oosthuizen has won just nine times on the European Tour but Duggan expects him to be involved in contention come Sunday at Lahinch.
“I would be very surprised if he wasn't in the conversation at all given he was in the top 10 at the Pebble Beach US Open. He is just such a beautiful swinger of the golf club and maybe it all comes too easy to him sometimes.”
Also speaking on OTB AM, Wood noted that from his experience Lahinch had never been in as good a condition as tournament host Paul McGinley had it in presently.
Wood also gave his view after playing the course that; “If you’re straight the ball bounces forever if you’re not you're up to your neck in grass and it can be very difficult.”
Wood added that from his round of the course on Wednesday the greatest difficulty was trying "to get the ball to check and stop on the flat greens”.