John Duggan's Irish Open Previ...

Golf

John Duggan's Irish Open Preview and Tips


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The 64th edition of golf's Irish Open will be held in Clare for the first time this week.

Lahinch golf club is 127 years old, and this venerated links will welcome the cream of European Tour talent to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Rory McIlroy may be an absentee, but Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington will provide plenty of local flavour, while Danny Willett, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke bring major pedigree.

Tournament favourite Jon Rahm of Spain is also becoming one of the best players in the world not to have won a major.

The course is on the short side at 7036 yards and it's going to be a sunny, pleasant week with mild breezes. It means scoring could be low, but when I spoke to Lowry yesterday, he advised me that parts of the test are tricky and one needs to be on their game.

In attempting to pick a winner, I have set aside €50 of 'virtual money' to bet with at 1/5 the odds each way for the first eight places based on my market research. Obviously you should bet less at home.

Louis Oosthuizen is my idea of the Irish Open winner at 18/1.

The South African is a class act, and if Lahinch is known as the 'St Andrews' of Ireland, then Oosthuizen carries a St Andrews links connection, having won The Open Championship there in 2010.

The South African landed the Irish Amateur Strokeplay Championship in Royal Dublin as a 19 year old in 2002, so he has fond memories of the Emerald Isle.

Oosthuizen has a beautiful swing and this four-time major runner up posted a top 10 finish at the recent US Open at Pebble Beach.

In this field lacking similar strength, he's my headline tip each way.

Danny Willett is another major champion, a Masters winner who has returned to form.

The Englishman experienced a slump after seizing the green jacket, but good iron play has seen him return to form with decent finishes at the US and Canadian Opens.

Willett likes links golf and has posted four top 10's at the Irish Open.

To me, he seems a solid each way proposition at 28/1.

I am taking a chance each way on Eddie Pepperell at 40/1. He has been on an extended break to rest his back, but if rust doesn't win the day, then he could contend.

Pepperell was tied second in the 2015 Irish Open at Royal County Down. He enjoys links golf and has posted strong finishes in the Open Championship and Dunhill Links.

Finally, I like the look of youngster Robert MacIntyre each way at 70/1.

The Scot was a top amateur, winning the Scottish equivalent at Muirfield.

He's taken his flourishing game and strong mentality to the European Tour this season, posting a second place at Hillside, another links. That was followed by a second in Denmark, so he's shown he can embrace Sunday nerves.

It's going to be a great week at Lahinch.

Paul McGinley has done a splendid job already as tournament host and the Clare community have really embraced a significant golf tournament coming to their shores.

The weather will play its part and up to 100,000 people may attend an event which will be worth millions to the local economy.

Bravo to everyone who has made this happen.

Irish Open - €50 virtual bet 

€10 each way Louis Oosthuizen 18/1

€5 each way Danny Willett 28/1

€5 each way Eddie Pepperell 40/1

€5 each way Robert MacIntyre 70/1

1/5 the odds 8 places available with bookmakers.

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