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The virtual pot is at €940 from €1000 entering the first tournament of focus this week, the 2022 Irish Open on the DP World Tour at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny.
Mount Juliet was home to the Irish Open from 1993 to 1995 before staging the event again last year, won by Australian Lucas Herbert. The Jack Nicklaus designed venue also hosted World Golf Championship events in 2002 and 2004, won by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els respectively.
It's a parkland course, a par 72, with a premium on accuracy when it comes to approach shots.
There are 11 Irish players in the field of 156.
Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power are the star attractions as Rory McIlroy takes a break before the Open Championship. Lowry and Power have had excellent seasons on the PGA Tour and rate as strong contenders to win their national championship.
The Irish Open starts at 7.30am Thursday, Irish time.
Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betway, Betfred and Betfair offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight places.
Our headline selection is Thomas Pieters for €4 each way at 18/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
Belgian Thomas Pieters hasn't sparkled in America - he prefers living in Europe these days and his comfort levels on the DP World Tour are high. His five starts this year have yielded a win against a strong field in Abu Dhabi, five finishes inside the top 15 and a runner up spot behind Haotong Li at the BMW International Open in Munich last Sunday. Former Ryder Cup star Pieters is a very talented player who hits the ball far and can take advantage of the four par five holes at Mount Juliet. He finished in a tie for 12th in this event last year and is the third best player in the field this week according to the World Rankings. Another solid performance is on the cards from the 30 year old and he's our headline tip.
Our second selection is Johannes Veerman for €2 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill).
One of the benefits of watching one of our selections Lucas Herbert win the Irish Open last year was that it stays fresh in the memory - nice feelings do. The man who pushed Herbert on the Sunday was American Johannes Veerman, who faltered with two dropped shots down the stretch - ultimately ending the tournament in third spot. He showed his character three starts later by claiming his first DP World Tour title at the Czech Masters. Veerman enters this Irish Open in much better form than 2021 - a tie for 10th at the European Open was followed by a tie for 20th at the Scandinavian Mixed. He'll have good vibes back in Kilkenny and is capable of contending once again.
Our third selection is Wil Besseling for €2 each way at 80/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, Betfred).
Watching wall to wall coverage of the US Open made me spot many things - one was the halfway position of Dutchman Wil Besseling, who opened with a pair of 71's. Brookline would beat him up over the weekend, but it was a sign of decent form. It had followed a sole second place finish at the European Open, so a maiden tour title might not be far away for the 36 year old, who finished with four under par rounds in Munich last week. Besseling hits a lot of greens and was tied 17th in the Irish Open last year. He is capable of making the frame.
Our final selection is Niall Kearney for €2 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places, William Hill, Betway).
One Irish player who has caught my eye in recent times is 34 year old Niall Kearney, who is quietly making a name for himself on the DP World Tour. The former Irish PGA champion and Walker Cup player posted four top 12's last year and was tied for 15th at the Soudal Open back in May. Another tie for 15th ensued last week at the BMW International Open, where he went 13 under par for his last three rounds. He admitted possibly trying too hard at Mount Juliet last year when missing the cut, but I am willing to give this in form player another chance to shine in front of the home support at a decent price.
So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's Irish Open Make sure you bet less at home!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!