Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Horizon Irish Open Tips 2022

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Boylesports have an outstanding proposition this week at the Irish Open, offering a massive 11 places each-way at 1/5 odds! For latest odds click here.

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It was nice to be on the right side of Sunday’s play-off in Munich, where Haotong Li somehow managed to conjure up a birdie on the first extra hole to give us a very welcome 60/1 winner. A rollercoaster day also saw 35/1 chance Pablo Larrazabal sneak us a full each-way payout courtesy of his eagle-birdie-birdie finish. Let’s hope we’ve not used up all of our luck in one go!

On to this week we go and the run-up to the Open Championship starts in earnest as the DP World Tour ventures to Ireland, before heading to the Renaissance Club in Scotland next week for something a little more linksy ahead of the main event itself.

With this being parkland golf though as opposed to links, plus the ongoing LIV saga, the star-studded fields that we’ve seen in some recent ‘Links Swing’ events is sadly absent this week. That said, Shane Lowry and Seamus Power headline for the home fans and quite right rate as the bookies’ favourites this week at around 9/1 and 16/1 respectively.

Tyrrell Hatton and Thomas Pieters are both 18/1 chances or thereabouts this week, with the likes of Ryan Fox, Jordan Smith, Aaron Rai, Adrian Meronk and defending champion Lucas Herbert following on behind in the betting,

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Boylesports have an outstanding proposition this week at the Irish Open, offering a massive 11 places each-way at 1/5 odds. 18+. 1/5 odds 11 Places in the Irish Open. Pre-live each way bets on outright market only. Dead Heat rules apply. T&Cs apply.

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Boylesports have also gone to town with their in-play golf offering lately, with a plethora of markets available including:

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Further details of these In-Play markets can be found here. In addition there’s live 3D shot tracking on both Tours and live streaming of Par 3s – for further details click here.

hit green in regulation

Course Overview. Mount Juliet is a 7,264 yard, par 72 that hosted its first Irish Open since 1995 this time last year.

Back in the mid-90s, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance won here at -12, -13 and -11 respectively. A little more recently, the parkland track also hosted the 2002 and 2004 WGC American Express Championships won by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els at -25 and -18 respectively.

The Jack Nicklaus design is a tree-lined affair with fairly generous fairways and Bentgrass greens that can reach 12 on the stimpmeter. Water is in play on half of the holes and the pair of 9s are of virtually identical in length and composition with 2 par-3s, 5 par-4s and 2 par-5s on each side.

The closing stretch adds some good variance to players’ rounds as the par-4 16th and 18th holes ranked 4th and 1st for difficulty last year, whereas the par-5 17th was the second easiest hole on the course to offer a little respite. The par-5 5th hole played easiest of all last year at 0.6 strokes under par overall.

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key statistics for this week’s event that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well in this event, although as previously noted this week’s venue hosted the event last year only in recent times: Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Event Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Event Winners. 2021: Lucas Herbert, 33/1; 2020: John Catlin, 40/1; 2019: John Rahm, 8/1; 2018: Russell Knox, 28/1; 2017: Jon Rahm, 14/1; 2016: Rory McIlroy, 4/1; 2015: Soren Kjeldsen, 150/1; 2014: Mikko Ilonen, 80/1; 2013: Paul Casey, 50/1; 2012: Jamie Donaldson, 66/1; 2011: Simon Dyson, 25/1; 2010: Ross Fisher, 20/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

Blustery conditions will continue in Southern Ireland until the weekend, with wind in the 15-20mph region and showers mixed in with sunny spells before a largely dry and cloudy final two rounds. Temperatures will hover around the mid-60s Fahrenheit with winds dropping a little to 10-12mph over the weekend.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Looking at the last few Irish Opens gives us some idea of that kind of skill-sets that this week’s test may demand:

  • 2021: Lucas Herbert. 313 yards (5th), 53.6% fairways (35th), 68.1% greens in regulation (34th), 73.9% scrambling (15th), 1.60 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2020: John Catlin. 279 yards (55th), 62.5% fairways (6th), 72.2% greens in regulation (6th), 80% scrambling (2nd), 1.78 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2019: Jon Rahm. 309 yards (4th), 60.7% fairways (3rd), 73.6% greens in regulation (17th), 52.6% scrambling (50th), 1.65 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2018: Russell Knox. 305 yards (18th), 53.3% fairways (19th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 62.5% scrambling (18th), 1.73 putts per GIR (15th).
  • 2017: Jon Rahm. 302 yards (8th), 51.8% fairways (36th), 81.9% greens in regulation (4th), 46.2% scrambling (56th), 1.61 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2016: Rory McIlroy. 293 yards (9th), 60.7% fairways (23rd), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st), 58.3% scrambling (21st), 1.87 putts per GIR (52nd).
  • 2015: Soren Kjeldsen. 280 yards (28th), 67.9% fairways (5th), 62.5% greens in regulation (18th), 66.7% scrambling (5th), 1.82 putts per GIR (19th).
  • 2014: Mikko Ilonen. 291 yards (31st), 51.9% fairways (31st), 73.6% greens in regulation (27th), 78.9% scrambling (1st), 1.66 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2013: Paul Casey. 287 yards (18th), 44.6% fairways (41st), 73.6% greens in regulation (10th), 68.4% scrambling (10th), 1.68 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2012: Jamie Donaldson. 289 yards (8th), 58.9% fairways (35th), 62.5% greens in regulation (64th), 63.0% scrambling (5th), 1.51 putts per GIR (1st).

A variety of different courses used may explain the disparity between stats in the results above and, depending on the course and conditions being played on any given year, either high GIR or a strong short game has been the winning formula in general.

Although held 17 and 19 years ago respectively, players stats were also captured for the two WGCs held here at Mount Juliet, summarised as follows for the two winners:

  • 2004: Ernie Els. 278 yards (2nd), 57.1% fairways (62nd), 72.2% greens in regulation (11th), 85% scrambling (1st), 1.65 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2002: Tiger Woods. 282 yards (21st), 73.2% fairways (24th), 83.3% greens in regulation (3rd), 91.7% scrambling (1st), 1.58 putts per GIR (6th).

Short game and putting was where both Els and Woods excelled on their way to victory and that theme follows for a number of their closest contenders each year; this also ties in nicely with Lucas Herbert’s victory 12 months ago.

Els made 3 bogeys in total on his way to victory and Woods just 1, which would suggest that keeping your card clean is both possible and essential to compiling a score around here. Lucas Herbert made 5 bogeys and a double, balanced by 26 birdies, which again isn’t excessive in terms of mistakes made.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, we only have last year’s event here to go on, however if does give us a few clues with SG Tee to Green the most common success factor:

  • 1st, Lucas Herbert: T: 7th; A: 19th; T2G: 9th; ATG: 30th; P: 5th
  • 2nd, Rikard Karlberg: T: 42nd; A: 3rd, T2G: 3rd, ATG: 9th; P: 24th
  • 3rd, Johannes Veerman: T: 8th; A: 23rd, T2G: 10th, ATG: 26th; P: 15th

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

Incoming Form: There are positives to pick out of the recent form of our past 10 Irish Open champions and none arrived in what you’d class as poor form.

All 10 had recorded a top-20 finish in their previous 7 outings and all had made the weekend on their previous start, with three of our last four winners – John Catlin, Jon Rahm and Russell Knox – each having finished first or second in one of their previous two starts.

A similar trend continues with Dyson (2011) and Fisher (2010), broken eventually by the shock win from Shane Lowry as an amateur back in 2009:

  • 2021, Lucas Herbert: MC/70/46/MC/MC/71/18/19
  • 2020, John Catlin: 8/43/51/6/MC/25/1/8
  • 2019, Jon Rahm: 12/6/24/9/MC/MC/3/2
  • 2018, Russell Knox: MC/MC/16/20/44/12/38/2
  • 2017, Jon Rahm: 10/27/4/72/2/MC/MC/10
  • 2016, Rory McIlroy: 20/MC/3/27/4/10/4/12
  • 2015, Soren Kjeldsen: MC/45/MC/14/MC/31/9/18
  • 2014, Mikko Ilonen: 5/33/37/MC/8/MC/38/32
  • 2013, Paul Casey: MC/16/MC/8/MC/51/45/53
  • 2012, Jamie Donaldson: 51/3/63/44/15/53/WD/22

Event Form: Despite the fact that the venue and style of course used for the Irish Open varies from year to year, it’s interesting to note that prior to Jon Rahm’s debut win in 2017, the previous 5 winners had all recorded at least one top-13 finish in the event prior to winning. Russell Knox continued that trend in 2018 before Rahm tasted victory for a second time in this event the year after.

Again the same can be said about Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher in their respective victories, with the trend once again falling down with Shane Lowry’s success at Baltray.

John Catlin’s win at Galgorm Castle in 2020, which was a new course to many of the field, was on his Irish Open debut; Lucas Herbert, on the other hand, had finished 7th in Catlin’s victory before winning here at Mount Juliet 12 months ago:

  • 2021, Lucas Herbert: 55/7
  • 2020, John Catlin: Debut
  • 2019, Jon Rahm: 1/4
  • 2018, Russell Knox: 2
  • 2017, Jon Rahm: Debut
  • 2016, Rory McIlroy: MC/7/50/35/34/10/MC/MC/M
  • 2015, Soren Kjeldsen: MC/33/MC/35/6/64/MC/45/35/30/MC/18/MC
  • 2014, Mikko Ilonen: 49/MC/WD/16/MC/MC/10/32
  • 2013, Paul Casey: MC/13/2
  • 2012, Jamie Donaldson: MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/13/21/45

A parkland setup renders a lot of the more recent links Irish Open results as interesting fact rather than useful research, however with plenty of comparable courses and results across Great Britain and Ireland to study, there are still some good pointers out there for this week. Parkland form in Great Britain and Ireland over the years would seem the most logical starting point and a preference for Bentgrass greens may be the icing on the cake.

The final consideration for this week is Open Championship qualifying, with 3 places up for grabs from this week’s Irish Open (you can check those already exempt here), plus there’s Final Qualifying happening across 4 sites on Tuesday.

My selections are as follows:

Ryan Fox 2.5pts EW 22/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Shane Lowry and Seamus Power head home this week from their more regular PGA Tour surroundings and a case can undoubtedly be made for both men.

Lowry’s win at Baltray as an amateur will remain stuff of legend for decades to come, as he saw off the professionals in foul weather at huge pre-event odds. While close calls this season on the PGA Tour including 2nd at the Honda Classic, 3rd at The Heritage, and 3rd at The Masters are results way beyond anything that most of the field here can boast, it remains fact that that the Irishman hasn’t won on any Tour since lifting the Claret Jug in 2019 and his returns to home soil haven’t been anywhere near as productive since that aforementioned win 13 years ago. At single-figure odds I can leave him alone.

Seamus Power is also left out at a slightly longer price, although a little reluctantly it has to be said. 9th at the US PGA Championship and 12th at the US Open in recent weeks is, like Lowry, head and shoulders above most in attendance here. Those results should give the 35 year-old hope that he can make an impact on his Open Championship debut in a few weeks time though and that is likely the focus, with playing at home this week a nice bonus with friends and family in attendance. A record of MC/63/60 in the few times that he’s played the Irish Open is also a little off-putting given the miserly price on offer.

I could be wrong and both men may seriously contend, and one may ultimately prove victorious, however I’ll take them both on with in-form Kiwi Ryan Fox who’s seemingly in contention every time he tees it up on the DP World Tour. Last 7 event form stripping out Majors reads: 1/15/9/8/2/2/3 and had Sundays gone just slightly better for the 35 year-old then at least one or two of these close calls could have been victories to add to his Ras al Khaimah Classic success in February.

Last week’s effort saw Ryan tie the lead with 3 holes to go, however a trio of pars to finish meant that he had to settle for 3rd as Haotong Li and Thomas Pieters progressed to the play-off. Feeling under the weather all weekend after blistering bogey-free opening rounds of 66 and 64 may go some way to explain why he didn’t quite get over the line, however with a few days now to get himself fully fit he could go better still this week in Ireland.

Par-5 scoring proved critical here last year at Mount Juliet with the top 8 finishers an aggregate 87-under par for the long holes, and Fox was clear on that stat last week at 17-under for the 4 rounds, 3 strokes clear of his nearest challenger.

7th for SG Off the Tee, 5th for SG Tee to Green, 6th for SG Putting and 1st for SG Around the Green last week in Germany is a dream combination for this coming week and is a world away from the stats he produced when missing the cut here 12 months ago. I’m anticipating the polar opposite here this time around from Fox. RESULT: 2nd

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Adri Arnaus 1.5pts EW 50/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Having hammered on the door for long enough, it eventually opened for Adri Arnaus at the Catalunya Championship in May and he’s the sort who could add another title to his tally in quick succession now that the monkey’s off his back, and another picturesque parkland track should play to his strengths.

Although it took a marathon play-off to eventually see off Oliver Bekker at PGA Catalunya, nobody can say that the win hadn’t been coming with the previous 6 months littered with contending and semi-contending performances, and given what we’ve seen of his history on parkland and tree-lined courses, it was no real surprise that his breakthrough came on a compatible track. What is a surprise to me though is that this week should also appeal, yet he’s seemingly been forgotten in the market after missing the cut at the US Open on his last start. He can undoubtedly be forgiven for that.

What’s been noticeable with the Spaniard in recent times is his massive improvement with the putter. For a player who burst onto the scene with an outstanding long game, the turnaround with the flat stick has been outstanding, moving up from 143rd on Tour for SG Putting in 2020 to 6th in 2021. 21st for 2022 thus far is still around the top decile and ultimately if he can maintain that whilst coupling up with some strong weeks with his previously dependable long game then he’ll rack up more victories without any shadow of doubt.

Interesting then that 48th at the Belfry immediately after his breakthrough win saw Adri rank 3rd for SG Off the Tee, and 30th at the US PGA Championship following that was fuelled by 8th for SG Off the Tee and 9th for SG Tee to Green. The putter returned at the Porsche European Open where he finished 16th overall, and after a short break following his US Open missed cut he can get back into contention here this week.

56th here last year on course debut followed a pair of missed cuts, yet he still led the field for SG Putting on these Bentgrass greens. A year further on and with that win now under his belt, I can see him improving on that overall finish massively this week. RESULT: MC

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Maximilian Kieffer 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I have 3 further plays this week, all at long prices – the first of whom is Max Kieffer.

Winning totals have varied here at Mount Juliet depending on the weather and although I’m not expecting a real grind here this week unless there’s a material change in the weather forecast; neither am I expecting it to be a birdie-fest with gusty winds and a wet course to start the event, and anything slightly tougher suits the German.

2 agonising play-off defeats are the closest that the Düsseldorf man has come to opening his account at DP World Tour level over the years, having won in India on the Challenge Tour back in 2012. It took Raphael Jacquelin 9 extra holes to finally shake off Max at the 2013 Spanish Open and John Catlin 5 holes at last year’s Austrian Open, however the 32 year-old has enough game to put that right eventually and perhaps as soon as this week.

39th here at Mount Juliet last year came in a stretch where he’d missed 4 of his previous 5 cuts; a current form line of 40/14/MC/7/26 is far stronger and last week’s effort at the end of that string of results masks the fact that he sat in 6th place heading into the weekend.

Strokes Gained positive for Putting over his last 2 outings is positive given that he’s largely struggled with the flat stick in 2022, and 5th for SG Around the Green in Sweden and 3rd for SG Approach last week Munich suggest that he’s not far from another contending performance as he looks to break his duck on the DP World Tour. RESULT: T30

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Brandon Stone 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Another 3-figure chance who has the class to compete in this field is Brandon Stone. As a Rolex Series event winner courtesy of his 4-stroke 2018 Scottish Open triumph over Eddie Pepperell, few in this field can boast anything remotely close to that level of victory and he can back that back up that up with a further pair of co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour titles from 2016, as well as another couple of victories on his home Tour.

A play-off win over Oliver Bekker, Hennie du Plessis and Daniel van Tonder at last year’s Limpopo Championship is the 29 year-old’s most recent success, and with the first two names on that list now earning the big bucks over on the LIV Tour, perhaps Stone will up his game to prove to himself and everyone else that he’s as good as his compatriots.

Certainly the past two outings have showed some promise for the Pretoria man. 5th at the Porsche European Open at the start of June was Stone’s first top-10 finish for over a year on the DP World Tour and featured top-10 SG performances both Around the Green and from Tee to Green; 15th last week was achieved in much the same fashion and if he can find a spark with the putter – which he seeming did before that at The Belfry where he ranked 4th for SG Putting – then he could well feature here this week.

A weekend off here last year was his 5th Missed Cut in 6 starts; he arrives here this week in far better form, but is being quoted at the same kind of price as 12 months ago. RESULT: T46

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Daan Huizing 0.5pt EW 350/1 (5EW, 1/4)

Finally I’ll close this week with a very speculative punt on Daan Huizing. I say speculative due to the massive price and the fact that I can’t consider the extended each-way price options due to the differential in odds, however that’s not to say that this is a wild stab in the dark.

The Dutchman may still be far less well-known than the likes of compatriots Joost Luiten and Wil Besseling, however he has 6 professional titles to his name, 3 of which came at Challenge Tour level and perhaps crucially – at least for justification of why he deserves a little respect this week – 2 of which came in the island of Ireland. Playoff wins over Oliver Wilson in the 2013 Northern Ireland Open Challenge at Galgorm Castle was matched last year when the 31 year-old beat Eduard Rousaud at Portmarnock.

Perhaps the earlier win was of more relevance to this week than the more recent one given the topography of Mount Juliet, however both at least show some positivity in this part of the world. 38th, 23rd and 8th place finishes at the Irish Challenge before his win last year, plus two further top-10 finishes at Galgorm Castle on the Challenge Tour following his earlier success, plus 14th there in the 2020 Irish Open, add a little more fuel to the fire.

10th at the Porsche European Open at the start of June rates as Huizing’s best career finish at DP World Tour level and he was prominent for the first 2 rounds last week in Munich, where 63/69 to open put him in 3rd position heading into the weekend. With confidence growing at this level with every passing week, a challenge for the each-way places isn’t out of the question here. RESULT: MC

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:30BST but are naturally subject to fluctuation.