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Irish Open Preview and Player Picks

Irish Open Preview and Player Picks

Rory makes a welcome return to the Irish Open and is in the 1pm group alongside Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion John Catlin.

2021 Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open Preview and Player Picks

We are moving closer to The 2021 Open Championship, which means the best in the world are making their way across the pond. The first stop is Kilkenny, where Mount Juliet will host its first Irish Open since 1995 when Sam Torrance claimed victory.

American John Catlin returns to defend the crown that he claimed last year at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Northern Ireland. 

All eyes will be on the 1pm tee time on Thursday, which will feature the tournament’s stars, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood, alongside Catlin. Other notable names in the field include Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.

The total purse for the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open is €3,000,000, significantly lower than PGA Tour events, but still, nothing to scoff at. The winner will walk away €480,000 richer.

Mount Juliet 

Mount Juliet Golf Estate is situated in Kilkenny and was designed by the great Jack Nicklaus.  It first opened in 1991 and to mark the occasion, The Golden Bear took on Christy O’Connor Jr in an exhibition match.

In 1993 it hosted its first Irish Open, won by Sir Nick Faldo. It has also been the venue for two World Golf Championships and an Irish Senior’s Open.

Course Design

Mount Juliet is an American Parkland layout that plays 7264 yards as a Par 72. The course features five lakes and over eighty bunkers strategically placed to add to the challenge. 

Furthermore, players will need to navigate tree-lined fairways requiring expert placement to ensure a clear approach shot.

When Tiger Woods claimed the WGC American Express title at Mount Juliet in 2002, he remarked that the fairways are perfect and the greens were the best the players had putted on all year.

Weather Forecast

Thursday and Friday are forecast to deliver fantastic weather for golf, with temperatures hitting the high teens and low twenties. The only threat is a 22-knot Southerly wind blowing in on Friday, set to bring 14 inches of rainfall on Saturday and Sunday during play.

Players in the final grouping on Saturday will also need to contend with a 24-knot southwester.

Past Winners (Last 10 Years)

Year

Player

Score

Runner Up

Course

2020

John Catlin

270 (-10)

Aaron Rai

Galgorm Castle GC

2019

Jon Rahm

264 (-16)

Andy Sullivan

Bernd Wiesberger

Lahinch

2018

Russell Knox

274 (-14) *Playoff

Ryan Fox

Ballyliffin

2017

 Jon Rahm

264 (-24)

Richie Ramsay

Matthew Southgate

Portstewart

2016

Rory McIlroy

276 (-12)

Bradley Dredge

Russell Knox

The K Club

2015

Søren Kjeldsen

268 (-20) 

Eddie Pepperell

Bernd Wiesberger

Royal County Down

2014

Mikko Ilonen

282 (-2) *Playoff

Edoardo Molinari

Fota Island

2013

Paul Casey

274 (-14)

Joost Luiten

Robert Rock

Carton House

2012

Jamie Donaldson

270 (-18)

Rafa Cabrera-Bello

Anthony Wall

Fabrizio Zanotti

Royal Portrush

2011

Simon Dyson

269 (-15)

Richard Green

Killarney

Key Trends

Players will need to position themselves well off the tee to have a chance of reaching on approach and setting up a birdie or eagle putt. This week, driving accuracy, strokes gained on approach, and strokes gained putting will be integral to success at Mount Juliet.

Our Picks

Short-Priced Pick - Sam Horsfield

The Englishman has played consistently this year. In his last five starts, he has notched up two top five’s. That includes a tie for fifth at the BMW Open last week in Munich. 

Horsfield knows how to score low and continues to put himself in contention. He shot four rounds in the ’60s at The Gran Canaria Open in April, including a 61 and a first-round 64 last week.
 
Although his driving accuracy leaves much to be desired, he ranks 2nd on Tour for putts per GIR, 6th for stroke average and 17th for GIR’s. He will be a contender this week at 25/1 is well worth the punt.

Mid-Priced Pick - Dean Burmester

Before the South African ventured over to the US for The PGA Championship, he carded three top-ten finishes in a row. Including a win at The Tenerife Open in May. 

He struggled in Munich. But could be forgiven for the mammoth journey he undertook from San Diego after The PGA Championship.

Burmester currently sits 6th on Tour for driving distance and putts per GIR, which he will need to use to his advantage if he is to contend in Kilkenny this week.

Long Shot - Rasmus Hojgaard

The Dane will hope to draw inspiration from the national football team who have defied the odds to reach the Euro Quarter Finals. Hojgaard started the year strong with two top-ten finishes in The Middle East. However, he has left us with little to cheer for since. 

Rasmus showed promise last week in Germany when he tied for 17th, showing that he can still play. 

He is 12th on Tour for greens in regulation, but he will need to be on form with the putter this weekend if he is to contend.

 

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