Irish Open Preview

European Tour - The Irish Open - 27-30 June 2013
Carton House, Montgomerie Course, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland

INTRODUCTION

This is one of the biggest events on tour each year for spectator attendance and thus for atmosphere and excitement.

Like many national opens, the Irish version is shared around a variety of courses and has only previously visited the Montgomerie Course twice where the winners were Stephen Dodd (2005) & Thomas Bjorn (2006).

The course was also used for the 2012 European Amateur Championship, a prestigious amateur stroke play tournament, won by Rhys Pugh who is entered this week along with the aforementioned very-in-form Bjorn & the very-out-of-form Dodd.

Old Monty won't be here though. He turned 50 on Sunday and, in true Scottish style with a hungry eye on the dollars, he'll be making his Champions Tour debut in the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, a Major.

COURSE

The Montgomerie Course, just 15 miles from Dublin, is a parklands course with a links feel owing to its featureless flatness, pot bunkers and huge greens.

It's a par 72 at over 7,300 yds and, in my estimation, is a course where good driving is the standout significant stat as errant driving can cost golfers any winning chance, especially with all those deep pot bunkers lying in wait off the tees. Also, good drive positioning will make it easier to hit the right segment of those big greens.

There's a strong likelihood the wind will blow, at least on a couple of days so, under such circumstances, keeping it on the short grass assumes even greater significance as the greens will be tougher to hold.

EARLY MARKET

Rory McIlroy, naturally enough in a weak field, is the favourite at 9.00 despite still being winless in 2013.

Graeme McDowell, with a pair of wins but five missed cuts this year (incl The Masters & US Open) is not in much better form than Rory but a clear 13.00 2nd favourite.

Next in betting, both shorter than 20/1, are a couple of over-40's: the resurgent Thomas Bjorn with top4's in his past three starts and the amiable Padraig Harrington who has now been unsuccessfully seeking a European or US win for five years!

Then come local favourite Shane Lowry, who is exceptionally short priced at 23.00 for one with such a modest record, Ross Fisher at 26.00 who has been hinting at a return to his best in recent times and the talented but frustratingly infrequent winner, Francesco Molinari, also at 26.00 or so.

I liked Paul Casey for this event. He almost leads the tour in GIR and his play over the past year has frequently hinted that he might get back to his best, but a very short price of 34.00 - 36.00 puts me off.

SELECTIONS

As I said above, it's a weak field but one where many of the favourites have little recent form to recommend them: McIlroy, McDowell, Harrington & Lowry in particular.

In addition, the guys in the 2nd tier of betting (Fisher, Luiten, Molinari, Bjorn, Lowry, Casey, Donaldson, etc) win so infrequently that their 15/1 - 35/1 pricing here is equally unappealing. So, I'm seeking a longer priced good driver who'll hit most greens in regulation and supply each way betting value.

My top selection is young Argentine star Emiliano Grillo who ranks 6th in GIR this year so hits those greens with the required regularity and who, at just 20 years of age, is on a fast learning curve in 2013, turning last year's 30-40th's into 10-20th placings.

Grillo represents sound each way value at 126.00 to break into the top five here.

My second each way selection is, perhaps surprisingly, another South American - Chile's Felipe Aguilar. At the other end of the age scale to Grillo, Felipe is 38 but having his most consistent season ever with eight top10's in 15 starts in 2013 thus far. He ranks 9th in GIR and is thus overpriced at 81.00 in this field.

Cheers and good luck with your punting.

View the full field, form and prices here

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