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BlogIrish Open Preview and Picks

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

May 19th – 22nd, 2016

The K Club

Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,350

Purse: $4.36 million

with $730,300 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Soren Kjeldsen

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 29 of the top 100 and 12 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Golf Rankings, with two from the top-ten, #3 Rory McIlroy and #9 Danny Willett. The rest are #28 Russell Knox, #30 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #35 Shane Lowry, #36 Andy Sullivan, #37 Lee Westwood, #40 Soren Kjeldsen, #43 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #46 Bernd Wiesberger, #49 David Lingmerth and #50 Thongchai Jaidee.

Last year there was 13 top 50 players in the field

The field includes 19 of the Top 25 on this year’s European Tour Race to Dubai money list.  Those players include #1 Danny Willett, #3 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #4 Rory McIlroy, #7 Lee Westwood, #8 Joost Luiten, #10 Soomin Lee, #11 Soren Kjeldsen, #12 Chris Wood, #13, Jeunghun Wang, #14 Scott Hend, #15 Marcus Fraser, #17 Andy Sullivan, #18 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #19 Andrew Johnston, #20 Brandon Stone, #21 Thomas Pieters, #22 Haotong Li, #24 Nathan Holman and #25 Thorbjorn Olesen.  The only six players missing are #2 Louis Oosthuizen, #5 Henrik Stenson, #6 Branden Grace, #9 Charl Schwartzel, #16 Byeong Hun An and #23 Sergio Garcia.

The field includes ten past champions: Soren Kjeldsen (2015), Mikko Ilonen (2014), Jamie Donaldson (2012), Ross Fisher (2010), Shane Lowry (2009), Padraig Harrington (2007), Thomas Bjorn (2006), Stephen Dodd (2005), Brett Rumford (2004) and Soren Hansen (2002).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Irish Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Irish Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Irish Open.

A a good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

**NOTE**

One thing to look for is our new GOLFstats IQ.  For those that play in fantasy golf it’s a perfect way to help you pick those players in Draft Kings and Victiv games.  You can customize the list of those in the tournaments, to look back a couple or many years of tournament stats and you can go back a couple or ten weeks prior to the tournament.  On top of that, all the stats are fully sortable to help you pick your six players, we even give you their value for the week to help you chose.

That’s GOLFstats IQ, give it a try and tell us what you think of it

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Time

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Player The Players Mauritius Open Wells Fargo Trophee Hassan Zurich Classic Volvo China Valero Texas Shenzhen RBC Heritage Open de Espana Masters Shell Houston Dell Match Play
Jeunghun Wang
(254 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(230.33 pts)
T12
(57)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(53.33)
DNP 4
(40)
Danny Willett
(172 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP T28
(11)
Scott Hend
(144.67 pts)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(139.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(6)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Soren Kjeldsen
(137.17 pts)
T43
(10.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
T7
(73.33)
DNP T51
(0)
Richard Bland
(136.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(136 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T38
(6)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(123.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
T17
(44)
4
(26.67)
3
(45)
Nacho Elvira
(123.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Brandon Stone
(120 pts)
DNP 6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Nicolas Colsaerts
(118.33 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Estanislao Goya
(118 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Alexander Levy
(115.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(16)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Haotong Li
(115.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(110.83 pts)
T19
(46.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T28
(11)
Andrew Johnston
(107 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(95 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP T38
(6)
Felipe Aguilar
(93.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Richie Ramsay
(91.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP
Peter Hanson
(88.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Borja Virto Astudillo
(88 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(19)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T35
(10)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP
Alex Noren
(85 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP
Marcel Siem
(83.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Robert Rock
(83.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Player The Players Mauritius Open Wells Fargo Trophee Hassan Zurich Classic Volvo China Valero Texas Shenzhen RBC Heritage Open de Espana Masters Shell Houston Dell Match Play
Matthew Baldwin
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Matt Ford
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Edouard Espana
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Mcarthur
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
James Busby
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DQ
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Ben Evans
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Robert Karlsson
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Soren Hansen
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Michael Hoey
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Scott Jamieson
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Amazing on how just three years ago this event had one foot in the grave.  It was close to being gone, they couldn’t get any Irish sponsorship and it was hard just finding a course to have the event on.  That was until Rory McIlroy got involved and help bringing in Dubai Duty Free to sponsor the event.  With his foundation being a part of the tournament, Rory is also working on getting more marquee players to this event.  The upside is now the tournament has no problems in dying and is striving as the prize fund has doubled to four milllion pounds (About $4.36 million).  In 2011 first place paid around $360,000 while this year first place will pay $730,000.

This year the event is being played at The K Club, which is outside of Dublin.  Yes the Ryder Cup was played there ten years ago, but hopefully the future of this event will be if it can be played at Portmarnock which was the home of this event in the 70s and last played on the famous links in 2003.  If they could play on some great seaside courses, McIlroy could talk other marquee names like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to come over, once that happens it would put this event on the map.  Oh for those wondering, a big reason to play at The K Club this week is it’s celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Course information:

  • The K Club
  • Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • 7,350 yards     Par 35-37–71

The K Club was the brain storm of Michael Smurfit, who took over his father’s company that specialises in manufacturing paper-based packaging.  Smurfit liked golf and loved playing it in the United States.  He also loved watching golf tournaments and wanted to bring big time golf to Ireland.  In 1988 he found a small resort outside of Dublin called the Straffan House which James Bond creator Ian Fleming loved to vacation at.  Smurfit bought the 330 acre resort and bought an additional 220 acres.  He wanted to build the best golf course in the world and after spending a lot of time with a lot of different golf architects and finally decided on Arnold Palmer to build his dream.

Palmer built two courses, but the one that holds his name, the Palmer Ryder Cup course is the championship venue.  The course is good and always in pristine condition.  It’s one of the best parkland courses in Ireland, opening in July 1991.  The course became well know and in 1995 became the home of the European Open, a partnership that lasted to 2007.  Another good thing happened and that was in 1998 when the European Tour made it know that they wanted to take the 2005 (at the time before the 9/11 year postponement) Ryder Cup to Ireland and a combination of the course being so good along with Smufit’s deep pockets landed them the Ryder Cup.  Many expressed disappointment on the selection, many felt that with all of the classic Irish links courses one of them would be picked.

The course is good but frankly many hope that the future of the Irish Open is on courses like Portrush, Royal County Down, Portmarnock, Royal Dublin, Ballybunion or The European Club.

As for The K Club it will give a good challenge, with it’s great conditioning and so many natural hazards, water will come in play on 11 holes.  The finish will be a gamblers delight with 16 and 18 being reachable par 4s guarded by water and the challenging par 4 17th, with water all along the left side.  The greens are rather large and have some undulation to them and will roll pretty fast for a course in Ireland.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Irish Open

Key stat for the winner:

  • Hard to guage what the keys are to winning at The K Club.  The last time an event was played on it the golf ball was a lot different and clubs have come a long way.  In trying to compare what course is like The K Club it seems a lot like Quail Hollow, the site of the Wells Fargo Championship.  For that course those that hit it long have a big advantage and I can see that happening this week, those that hit it long will do well.
  • The course does have rough that will protect it, but in a talk with a low handicap member says that the course is much different.  The trees have grown out and have become more of a hazard over rough, which is there but not as penal as it was a decade ago.  As he said a good driver, that it’s it long and reasonably straight will win since the fairways are generous.  He also said that the weather conditions will play an important role.  In looking at the forecast one thing will happen, the players will see a lot of it.  Probably not as much as the rain that hit the Ryder Cup in 2006, but you better be a good rain player to do well.  This also helps those that fly the ball farther, with wet fairways it means no role and those that hit it short will have to be sharp with long irons and woods to score well.  So I would look for a bomber to do very well this week.
  • Last but not least look at our hot index of players in the field (It’s up above this).  You have to think that those that are playing good will do well.  Also don’t put much credence in the last two events on the European Tour, they are on courses totally different and fields that aren’t as good as the one playing this week.  But look for that golfer that has shown solid improvements in the last ten weeks.
  • One last weird stat that has nothing to do with who is going to win or not.  I would of thought that with this event being played in Ireland, you would have a lot of Irish players in the field.  Find it hard to believe that only 21 players from Ireland and Northern Ireland are playing in this event.

Who to watch for at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Best Bets:

Danny Willett

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T6 T3 T10 CUT CUT

He is the first Masters champion to play in the Irish Open since Jose Maria Olazabal did it in 1994 and he finished T-4th at Mount Juliet. I think that Willett will do one better, he always seems to play great in the Irish Open, finishing in the top-ten in his last three starts. He doesn’t bomb the ball but is about average for a European Tour player but does get it in the fairway. If he putts any good he will win this championship.

Lee Westwood

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T53 T30 T3 T21 T5

This guy is going to win again, could be this week. Has the game to win on this course and has great memories from the 2006 Ryder Cup. Also has great memories of winning twice on this course in 1999 & 2000 along with finishing T-2nd in 2004.

Joost Luiten

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T2 66 T59 T9

Finished T-2nd in this event when it was played at the Carton House, a course just like The K Club. But look at how well he has done of late including runner-up spots in the Spanish Open and the Shenzhen International.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT CUT CUT T10 T34 T35 T50 7 CUT

Have to mention him, he is great at driving the ball and should do well because of that. What I do worry about and why I think he will finish high, but not win is a balky putter along with the pressures of having to co-host this event.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 T26 T5 T2 CUT CUT T20 T37

Guy was hotter than a pistol leading to the Masters. Has slowed down but just look at the good finishes he has had in this event, finishing T-4th last year, T-5th in 2013 and runner-up in 2012.

Bernd Wiesberger

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T2 4

Has played well in this event, was runner-up last year. Has made a lot of checks this year, but no top-tens yet and you have to think it’s his time to find his game.

Thorbjorn Olesen

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT T18 T15

Has been playing well of late, he also had a great desert swing in January.

Solid contenders

Scott Hend

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T65 CUT

He is 29th longest hitter on the European Tour and is playing well. Of course I wrote not to put much credence in last week’s results, but he finished T-4th at Shenzhen and T-6th in Volvo China. At 80 to one he is a great gamble.

Martin Kaymer

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT T10 T35

Looking to get his game back, has played ok including a T-6th at the Spanish Open.

Russell Knox

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

A regular on the PGA Tour, he comes over here to try and improve on his Ryder Cup standings. Could he win, yes but highly unlikely in his first Irish Open.

Alex Noren

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T21 T57 T12

Another great pick with him being at 55 to one, he has played well this year and could do well this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Richard Bland

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T53 T44 T30 T18 T45 T5 T10 CUT CUT T19 CUT

Another longshot at 100 to one, I like that he has played in 13 Irish Opens and finished in the top-three, three times.

Brandon Stone

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT

Has played well of late, he also hits it a long way as he ranks 32nd on the European Tour distance category.

Andrew Johnston

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT CUT

Missed cut at Royal County Down but did win in Spain last month and could be ready for another great finish.

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