Irish Open Betting Preview

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Tipster David John offers up an in-depth preview of this week’s Irish Open at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.

This week’s Irish Open at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club may be suffering from the economic downturn with no major sponsor and a prize fund slashed in half but that should not dampen spirits as Ireland welcomes home the sporting behemoths that currently stand astride the world.

Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell – and not forgetting Padraig Harrington – all feature this week as Irish golf’s favourite sons focus on winning their national title on the shores of Lough Leane.

Only defending champion Ross Fisher gets among the quartet at the top of the betting with young Rory clear favourite at a best price of 6/1.

There are fair reasons to oppose all four.

I doubt bookmakers will be in a hurry to chalk McIlroy up at a backable price for a while after his US Open romp but he did show he is as susceptible to the elements as lesser golfers having got on the wrong side of the draw at Royal St George’s.

This venue is far less punishing but can still be at the mercy of the wind so single-figure quotes offer little in the way of value.

McDowell’s form has been erratic lately while Harrington seems to be enduring a lengthy battle with the mental side of the game – the latter currently winning – as he tries to put less pressure on himself whilst out on the fairways.

So that makes Open winner Clarke possibly the most tempting of the four and it is a case of how ready you think he will be after 10 days of celebrating his deserved major breakthrough.

An obvious factor to consider as well are the other Irish players in the field and how they will be inspired by the big guns.

Shane Lowry was a sensational winner of the event two years ago as an amateur at Co Louth and should be fired up at 40/1 to make another bold bid for the title.

Lowry has been hampered by moderate putting over the last couple of months but he looked to have things going in the right direction with a creditable effort last time at Castle Stuart in Scotland.

He could have done with a fourth round as he was making steady progress up the leaderboard and his closing 65 was his best effort of the shortened week.

Off since to attend the wedding of his sister, he should be raring to get going in front of his home fans in what will be his only event in five weeks as he now sets his sights for the second half of the season on qualifying for the Dubai World Championship.

Lowry shot a couple of decent scores at this venue 12 months ago on Friday and Saturday on the way to a T21 and could well turn out to be a bit of a specialist in this tournament so let’s hope the putting clicks into place.

It is time to head across the Irish Sea now for three final picks – Mark Foster, Chris Wood and Richard Finch.

I have a feeling that Foster and Wood may both fall into the “inspired” category this week and take a leaf out of Clarke’s book.

Both have come within a whisker of wins this season with Foster on the premises in both Munich and Paris earlier in the summer.

His ball-striking has been right out of the top drawer with winning and losing coming down to his prowess on the greens in the closing stages.

His defeat in France was tough to swallow but he took the philosphical approach and admitted he will try and keep putting himself in position on Sunday afternoon.

Foster’s good form continued with three rounds in the 60s in Scotland and if he turns up in the same mood, he could just find the door finally opening for him as Clarke did.

Wood comes from the same Chubby Chandler stable as Clarke and McIlroy and if that is not motivation enough to step up to the plate then I don’t know what is.

Ironically, it was Clarke who took advantage of his last-round wobble in Mallorca in May as Wood stumbled to a closing 76 in very windy conditions.

That was a tremendous opportunity to clinch a first European Tour win as the man from Bristol has shown more than enough over the past couple of years to hold his own alongside the big guns.

I am sure he will have been disappointed to miss out on a place at the Open Championship but a couple of weeks to freshen up may just help him refind the form he is capable of while a third here 12 months ago also bodes well.

Finch admitted the first 17 holes of his final day’s 69 last week in Stockholm was “the best round I have ever played” in conditions that saw two players record scores over 90.

He looks capable of building on that at a tournament which he memorably won back in 2008 despite falling in the River Maigue on his final hole.

He is well overdue another visit to the winner’s enclosure and his overall form in 2011 suggests he won’t be far away.

TIPS

1pt e.w. Shane Lowry at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6 Paddy Power). Past winner who looks a threat once again if the putter works.
1pt e.w. Richard Finch at 55/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6 bet365). Brilliant effort last week in Sweden can get in the mix again.
1pt e.w. Mark Foster at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6 Boylesports). Came close in 2011 and may just be inspired to take that final step.
1pt e.w. Chris Wood at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365). Out of the same stable at McIlroy and Clarke and should be really motivated.

Preview posted at 1425 BST on 27/07/2011

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