The Emerald Isle is our next stop on the European Tour rollercoaster and the picturesque Killeen Course at the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, County Kerry. The course runs alongside Lough Leane (the ‘lake of learning’) and as many of the players will be seeing the course for the first time this week, ‘learning’ is very apt!
Before we kick off with the tips, it's worth noting that both Paddy Power and Boylesports have gone 6 places each way on this event - everyone else is still at 5 places at best. To check out the current prices at Paddy Power or Boylesports click here: Paddy Power - Boylesports.
Last year’s event at Baltray saw a thrilling climax as then-amateur Shane Lowry finally held off Robert Rock at the third playoff hole to score a famous victory, to the obvious joy of the vociferous locals. There’s plenty of local interest again this year – Rory McIlroy heads the field from a bookmaker perspective at a skinny 7/1; Major winners Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington are both in the field as well as last year’s winner Lowry and the resurgent Darren Clarke. There are also 4 amateurs in the field who can all be backed at long, long prices: Alan Dunbar, Paul Cutler, Cian Curley and Pat Murray - if you fancy a repeat of last year's heroics.
Not since 1991 & 1992 has this course featured on the main European Tour – Sir Nick Faldo was the victor on both occasions – however there is a little more recent form to study, albeit on the Challenge Tour, from 2005 & 2006 where a few of the prominent players there are in the field this week. The course is a cracker and at a little over 7,100 yards certainly not long, generally favouring a right-handed fade on most holes. Water is in play on 11 of the 18 holes and there’s plenty of trees to punish a severely wayward drive, however the rough is pretty generous and, without much wind, the course will reap a low score – somewhere in the region of -20 I’d suggest. USGA style undulating greens running at 10.5 will suit the better putters and scoring will be critical this week – plodders will not make an impact here.
So, throw all those factors into the mix – straight, good putter, good scoring, excellent recent form (I’ve ignored the Open form for my predictor variables as this course is very different) and I’ve come up with the following list. One final point is that the draw may well slightly favour an early:late combination as there’s some weather coming in late Thursday so that has also impacted my picks:
Of the favourites on show, for me Molinari appeals the most. I personally can’t justify a price as short as 7/1 on McIlroy to win despite his obvious chance; Rose may have peaked for now, GMac is still getting back into the swing of playing after partying for a few weeks and Harrington is very hit and miss at present. Whilst his older brother has been making the headlines in recent weeks, needs must now for Francesco if he’s going to retain his automatic Ryder Cup berth. His sublime tee-to-green game will keep him away from the trouble that will punish the wayward around this track and the predictor #1 pick is surely just an average putting week away from a second European Tour victory. RESULT: 8th
Putting sensation Rhys Davies will find himself very much at home here if this turns into a battle of the flat stick. Already a winner this season in Morocco where 25 under was required to win, a similar score this week may well be the order of the day if it remains placid. Since that win, Davies has finished runner up on 3 occasions in China, Madrid and at Celtic Manor – another week in contention here would surely have Monty reaching for the notebook beside his bed for Ryder Cup wildcard names; a win would cement his position. RESULT: M/C
The winner of the Madeira Islands Open earlier this term has been off the boil recently before a prominent showing last week with an 8th place finish. When he’s hot, he’s hot – his win straddled results of 6th and 2nd, plus a 4th place finish a couple of weeks before that sequence – now’s the time to jump back on board. In Sweden, Morrison lead the field in terms of Driving accuracy and was top 12 for both putting average and putts per round – all 3 stats are perfect indicators of another prominent week here in Ireland. RESULT: M/C
Whiteford lost out in a playoff on this course back on the 2005 Challenge Tour event after opening with a cracking 65. The Scot shared the lead after round 1 with Bradley Dredge in Munich and with a favourable early tee time on Thursday could well set a low target and score an early 3-figure result for us! RESULT: T42
Check out our top 20 'double your money' tips for this event here: Irish Open top 20 tips
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:00BST 27.7.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation
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