Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2015 - Royal County Down GC

The Irish Open heads to Northern Ireland again this year and to Royal County Down GC where the tournament is being hosted by the World Number One, Rory McIlroy and his charity Foundation. Its been a massive coup for the Irish Open having suffered heavily during the recession and by Rory taking it on, he has assembled one of the strongest fields on the European Tour outside of The Open for many a year. He's even managed to get a sponsor in the shape of Dubai Duty Free who have had a lot of success in Irish Sports, particularly in horse racing, but the one thing the Holywood native couldn't organize was the weather! Or then again, maybe he has.....after all we are being introduced to one of the best links courses in the world this week and there's nothing better than seeing the world's best compete on tough links in windy wet conditions. I personally will be heading up the M1 on Friday to attend, and typical of my luck lately, it looks as if I've picked the worst of the four days according to the weather forecast.

The event follows last weeks affair at Wentworth and comes just two weeks before the second Major of the year, the US Open. Rory will have a lot off course duties to attend to this week but having had last weekend off, I expect to be gunning for the title here on his home patch, although if the winds continue throughout I feel he can be taken on. Not many in the field will have much course knowledge and this will be a big advantage for Rory, if he didn't need it!. But his good friend and recent Players Champion, Rickie Fowler has good memories of RCD having played here in the Walker Cup back in 2007. Fowler has shown his liking for links so will be interesting to see how he fares here this week again. He will play alongside Rory for the first two days and they will be joined by Martin Kaymer who I mentioned in last week's preview as one I'll be interested in for this. At 28/1 and playing in this threeball I fancy the two-time Major winner and winner of the Dunhill Links as well as the Scottish Open (albeit at Loch Lomond) and the KLM Open to mention a few, as being good markers for doing well on a course that this week will be of Major difficulty. If the winning score is lower than -10 I'll be surprised and its these type of scoring conditions that sees the best of the 30 year old. He won his two Majors at Whistling Straits and Pinehurst, two tracks that are exactly "parkland" either. Throw in his success at wind affected events from the Middle East and Martin Kaymer is not without a serious chance of winning this week. He defends his US Open title in Seattle in a couple of weeks time and he'll be relishing that and I like the fact a top player is set to defend in an upcoming event and feel that they can raise their game in anticipation of that defence. 28/1 with Betfair is a nice price this week for me.

From my shortlist on twitter yesterday, I mentioned two Scots took my fancy and they were Marc Warren & Richie Ramsay, available @ 50/1 and 90/1. Both are used to links golf, have performed well on links and both have won in the recent twelve months; Warren prevailing on a links course in Denmark last August and Ramsay winning on a links course in Morocco, the Trophee Hassan. Warren is a three time European Tour winner having won the 2006 Scandanavian Masters in 2006 and at Gleneagles in 2007. From his eight starts on tour this year he's made seven cuts with 5 of those resulting in TOP20s. He was TOP20 last week at Wentworth and could be a real threat this week in conditions he'll be used to. Ramsay returned from injury with 5 missed cuts earlier in the year before going in at Morocco and since 11-7-15 before missing the cut last week. He did complain of sore feet in Surrey but I'm literally betting those feet will be well rested and rarin' to go at RCD this week. He too is a three time winner on tour and the former US Amateur Champion (2006) also won the Irish Amateur in 2005 and the Scottish Amateur in 2004. Ramsay is an accurate sort of player who will feel at home in the conditions and is well worth chancing in  an event that has had its fair share of top class winners and outsiders over the years.

I also had earmarked two Frenchmen who could surprise many this week, the two GrĂ©gory's; Bourdy and Havret!  Bourdy is very consistent, very accurate player and arrives on the back of some decent form. Aside from a lowly finish at Wentworth, Bourdy has reeled off results of 15-31-15-27-7 previously. Indeed from his twelve starts this season he has made ten cuts finishing TOP20 on six occasions. He's overpriced at 125/1. Same with former US Open runner-up Havret, also available @ 125/1. Similar sort of season progress as well with 9/11 cuts made with four TOP20s. Yet to record a TOP10 finish this season though his last four events have yielded 11-22-31-15. His stats look good for this; he ranks 3rd for Driving Accuracy, 23rd for GIR, and 20th for scrambling. Perfect ingredients to have in the bag for the week !

I'm also adding Matthew Fitzpatrick into the staking plan here. Another former US Amateur Champion and one tipped for great things in the professional ranks, the Englishman may have an appropriate name for the week that's in it, (it worked for Paul Casey!) and he has the game for the links challenge that awaits.He made his professional debut at this event last year at Fota, and could be in the mood to celebrate his first anniversary. There could be a bit of talk of Rickie Fowler and the Walker Cup of 2007 this week and if the Sheffield native wants to reflect on his own Walker Cup experience, he can cast his mind back just two years to his fine performance at the National Golf Links of America when securing 3 pts from his 4 matches. If Fitzpatrick is going to throw in a good result soon, it could very well be on a course of this type and I'm having a nibble at 175/1.

I'll also be watching Malahide native Gavin Moynihan in action. Looking to cement a place on the Walker Cup Team for a second time, The Island's best recently took out the Irish Amateur at Royal Dublin for the second time in very nasty conditions and it was his second round back nine that stood out; when facing the cut in terrible conditions he fought back with a bunch of birdies to stay in it then shot a superb 65 in the third round. He too is a former Scottish Amateur Champion, attended Alabama last year before returning home and he'll be making his third Irish Open appearance. One for the future but not without a chance of a bold showing this week either and if Darren Clarke says he has an impeccable short game, then he could feature !

Staking Plan

2pts  e/w M.Kaymer @ 28/1
1 pt e/w M.Warren @ 50/1
0.75 pts e/w R.Ramsay @ 90/1
0.5 pts e/w G.Bourdy @ 125/1
0.5 pts e/w G.Havret @ 125/1
0.25 pts e/w M.Fitzpatrick @ 175/1

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