Irish Open 2015 Preview


The 2015 Irish Open, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and hosted by Rory McIlroy and the Rory Foundation, takes place at Royal County Down tomorrow with quite possibly the best field ever assembled for the tournament. Since the 2002 & 2004 WGC events at Mount Juliet and 2005 & 2010 JP McManus Pro-Am’s at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort we have not seen so many of the World’s Top-50 golfers graces one of our top courses. This year’s event has been completely sold out which points to the great efforts made to attract the world’s best players to the Emerald Isle. In 2012 at Royal Portrush there was similar success but not quite as good a field and while 90% of attendees that year were from Northern Ireland, this year one third have been to visitors (well 28% from the Republic of Ireland and 4% from mainland United Kingdom).

Many “fair dues” must go to Rory McIlroy for putting the tournament properly back on the professional golfing map following encouraging developments over the past few years at Portrush, Fota Island and Carton House respectively. With Lough Erne penciled in for 2017 and the likely venue for 2016 being The K Club, The Irish Open looks to be in good hands for the future! Okay, enough about the past and future……onto the present and some contenders for this year!

Rory McIlroy

Quite rightly the favourite at one of his favourite course, “Rors” is 4/1 best price and should make a great tilt at winning his first Irish Open title. The price would put me off based on the quality of the field, and with Rory’s missed cut last week perhaps diluting his confidence but also giving him the weekend off to rest (let’s hope he did exactly that!) it is tough to predict exactly how he will do. I don’t envisage a second consecutive missed cut but I’m not sure whether he will contend as strongly as he will hope, famous last words of course!

Rickie Fowler

Fowler played Walker Cup here in 2007 and will have fond memories as Team USA got the victory against the GB&I team that year. He is playing well too of course, having won The Players in quite spectacular fashion with 3 birdies on the usual terrifying 17th hole at Sawgrass during the final day. I like Rickie’s chances this week, he is well able to play links golf and has shown this at several Open Championships too. Best price of 12/1 point to a good each way bet here.

More from European tour

Sergio Garcia

The Spaniard continues to perform consistently well on every side of the Atlantic but still flatters to deceive more often than not when the big victories seem within his grasp. He didn’t do much wrong at Sawgrass a few weeks ago and of course has had his fair share of good performances on difficult golf courses and links courses alike, that points to him having a good chance this week as well. Garcia is best price 14/1 with the bookies but is never usually a likely winning bet for my liking unfortunately, prove me wrong Sergio!!

Shane Lowry

The man from Clara, Co Offaly, amazed us all by winning the 2009 Irish Open at Baltray (County Louth GC) as an amateur and has a stunning amateur career behind him which includes many a fine performance over links courses in all sorts of tough golfing conditions – just cast your mind back 6 years ago to the challenging weather that presented itself when he captured his first European Tour title. I expect Shane to have a big week, he performed well at Wentworth once more and will relish the opportunity to win his second Irish Open title. Odds of 18/1 best price are good enough for me anyway.

Danny Willett

Another graduate from the Walker Cup school of 2007, Willett has been steadily grinding his way up the World Rankings and with his good form this year along with a bit of course knowledge of “RCD” he could well contend at the top of the leaderboard this year. With odds of 45/1 he represents good value and somebody who does have a big chance.

Rest of the Irish

Being The Irish Open, it would be remiss of me not to at least mention a few “locals” that might spring a few surprises. If the likes of Harrington (80/1), Clarke (250/1), McGinley (750/1) or McDowell (50/1) won it would probably be unexpected but they are all seasoned campaigners now and when in contention we all know how good they can be. 2014 Ryder Cup Captain McGinley believes the winning score could be single figures at around 7/8 under par so that gives more of the “steady Eddie’s” a chance this week. There are a lot of Irish PGA Region professionals in action this week so look out for the likes of John Kelly, Cian McNamara, and Neil O’Briain among others who may well threaten the upper echelons of the leaderboard over the opening rounds – hopefully they can all have a great week!

A few long shots

Us Irish love having a bet, of course the longer odds the better. Here are a few that might just make you a few quid this week – David Horsey 125/1 (another from the 2007 Walker Cup and has an Irishman on the bag and all!), Michael Hoey 150/1 (has won a few big tournaments in Europe and is no stranger to Royal County Down) and Tom Lewis 200/1 (he’s not too shabby on the links!).

Okay, there is it. I think Fowler, Lowry and Willett are main 3 to watch this week at Royal County Down. It promises to be yet another fantastic Irish Open, if you’re in the vicinity call in for the craic and we’ll show you why there are generally 2 types of people in the World – the Irish, and those who wish they were!!