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BlogIrish Open Preview and Picks

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

July 6th – 9th, 2017

Portstewart G.C.

Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,118

Purse: $7 million

with $1,278,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Rory McIlroy

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 27 of the top 100 and 11 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Golf Rankings, with two from the top-ten, #2 Hideki Matsuyama and #4 Rory McIlroy. The rest are #11 Jon Rahm, #13 Justin Rose, #15 Tommy Fleetwood, #22 Tyrrell Hatton, #26 Thomas Pieters, #32 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #37 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #39 Danny Willett and #50 Hideto Tanihara.

Last year there was 12 top 50 players in the field

The field includes 17 of the Top 25 on this year’s European Tour Race to Dubai money list.  #1 Tommy Fleetwood, #3 Jon Rahm, #7 Justin Rose, #8 Peter Uihlein, #9 Thomas Pieters, #11 Hideto Tanihara #13 Pablo Larrazabal, #14 Alexander Levy, #15 Fabrizio Zanotti #16 Rory Mcilroy, #18 Dylan Frittelli, #19 Lee Westwood, #20 Rafael Cabrera-Bello #21 David Lipsky, #22 Alexander Bjorn #23 Matthew Fitzpatrick and #25 Thorbjørn Olesen

The field includes nine past champions: Rory McIlroy (2016), Soren Kjeldsen (2015), Mikko Ilonen (2014), Jamie Donaldson (2012), Shane Lowry (2009), Padraig Harrington (2007), Richard Finch (2008),Thomas Bjorn (2006) and Brett Rumford (2004).

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.

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 HNA Open de France BMW International Open U.S. Open Lyoness Open FedEx St. Jude Classic Nordea Masters Memorial Tournament BMW PGA Championship Dean & DeLuca Invitational The Rocco Forte Open Open de Portugal AT&T Byron Nelson The Players Championship
Tommy Fleetwood
(339.83 pts)
Win
(132)
T6
(60)
4
(160)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(4.5)
Hideki Matsuyama
(217.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
Alexander Bjork
(166.33 pts)
T3
(90)
T34
(16)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(149.33 pts)
T3
(90)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Nicolas Colsaerts
(147.33 pts)
T55
(0)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Renato Paratore
(137 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(126.67 pts)
DNP T26
(24)
T42
(16)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(40)
Haotong Li
(121 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP 68
(0)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(119.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T35
(30)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
Peter Uihlein
(116.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T78
(0)
DNP T25
(16.67)
T30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(110 pts)
T32
(18)
T14
(36)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Fox
(108 pts)
6
(60)
T26
(24)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Graeme Storm
(101.33 pts)
T38
(12)
T67
(0)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T41
(6)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(99.33 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
Dylan Frittelli
(97.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T14
(36)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Andres Romero
(95.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
Win
(132)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Andy Sullivan
(90.33 pts)
T13
(37)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(89.33 pts)
T16
(34)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
David Horsey
(85 pts)
DNP T75
(0)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP 7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Ian Poulter
(82.67 pts)
T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP T40
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
T2
(50)
Jamie Donaldson
(80.67 pts)
T32
(18)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP 7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(80 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
Richard Bland
(76.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
DNP 64
(0)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Detry
(76.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP 65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(76.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T46
(8)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(75 pts)
DQ
(-5)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP T41
(6)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Maximilian Kieffer
(73.33 pts)
T16
(34)
T82
(0)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Johnston
(72 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP T42
(16)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Nino Bertasio
(68.67 pts)
T62
(0)
T34
(16)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Rikard Karlberg
(63.67 pts)
T45
(5)
5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(2)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player HNA Open de France BMW International Open U.S. Open Lyoness Open FedEx St. Jude Classic Nordea Masters Memorial Tournament BMW PGA Championship Dean & DeLuca Invitational The Rocco Forte Open Open de Portugal AT&T Byron Nelson The Players Championship
Alexander Knappe
(-46.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Simon Dyson
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Justin Walters
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Marc Warren
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Soomin Lee
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Wade Ormsby
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T44
(6)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP DNP
Chris Hanson
(-36.67 pts)
T57
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Joel Stalter
(-32.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T51
(0)
CUT
(-20)
T34
(10.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Chris Paisley
(-30.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T31
(6.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Lee Slattery
(-30.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Amazing on how just four 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 won’t go away and has no problems  striving as the prize fund has doubled to seven milllion pounds..  In 2011 first place paid around $360,000 while this year first place will pay $1.2 million a drastic increase.

This year the event is being played at Portstewart Golf Club, which is in the town of Portstewart, Northern Ireland.  It’s about seven miles west of Portrush which is going to hold the 2019 British Open.  This is a dream course, one of those that is not well know but once you stumble upon it, you want to play it everyday for the rest of your life.  Known by many for having one of the best opening holes in Ireland, the 7,118 yard par 72 Stand Championship Course designed by Des Griffin first opened in 1894 as a nine hole course and was extended to 18 holes in 1934.  It will get rave reviews from all of the players and will have many more professional tournaments on it in the future.

Course information:

  • Portstewart Golf Club
  • Co. Derry / Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  • 7,118 yards     Par 36-36–72
  • What a dream course this is, I have been lucky to play it about a half a dozen times and each time I played it, loved it even more.  The course opened as a nine hole course in 1894.  It was just a string of holes along the ocean that was just over 1,000 yards.  In 1934 the course was extended to 18 holes.  But it wasn’t until 1986 that the course became what it is today.  That’s when the club bought a piece of property next to it know as “Thistly Hollow”  It was a number of towering sand dunes in which the club was able to put seven new holes around the dune and then snaking the course over dune-covered peninsula flanked on one side by the River Bann and the other by the Irish Sea.
  • It is know by everyone that has played it as having the best opening holes in golf, matter of fact the whole front nine is fantastic.  The last three holes are really good, all par 4s, they run parallel to each other and are the furthest holes from the sea.
  • The club held a qualifying round for The British Open in 1951 when it was played at Royal Portrush. The club played host to the Irish Amateur Championship in 1992 and the Amateur Championship in 2014, won by Bradley Neil of Scotland.  I will bet any amount of money that when the British Open is played down the road at Portrush, Portstewart will be the second most popular area during the week.

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 Portstewart.  They have held amateur events but never a professional events.  So the course will be hard to predict.  But you can bet that weather will play an important part.  Portstewart is on a combination of the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean so expect the players to have the full effects of an Irish summer.  Now an Irish summer isn’t the type of summer that we are use to.  On a perfect day during an Irish summer, it will be blue skies with temperatures just going over the 70 degree mark.  May be a touch of a breeze off the ocean, but what everyone says is a perfect day.  But you get that about once a week if your lucky, the normal Irish summer day is cloudy, temperatures in the mid-60s with a 10 to 15 mph breeze blowing off the ocean.  In some cases you will get a really terribly Irish summer day, winds blowing up to 45 mph, rain fallowing diagonally and just really miserable conditions.  Now playing a true links course in these conditions is fun as a change of pace, but if you had to play well and money is on the line it’s the most stressful conditions you can find in golf.
  • For this week the four days weather will be an average day at Portstewart, cloudy temperatures in the low 60s and winds coming from the north at 10 to 15 mph Friday and Sunday it will rain, so look for those that are patient in bad weather to do well..
  • This is also a perfect chance to get your game ready for the British Open in two weeks.  I can’t think of a better place to get ready than Portstewart, so this will be a good testing week for many in the field.
  • 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.

Who to watch for at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Best Bets:

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

I really believe that he can win either this week or at the British Open. His game is well proven on links courses, he is playing well and frankly he will win a major he is that good of a player.

Jon Rahm

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

We get to see if this youngster has the game to play links courses. He was a complete failure at Erin Hills, but we will see this week if his game is ready for a course that has all of the elements involved. I like his chances this week.

Tommy Fleetwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T21 CUT CUT CUT

He may be unbeatable right now, showing that he plays well in not only regular courses but links. I like him a lot this week.

Best of the rest:

Peter Uihlein

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T60 T32

Played well last week, think he will continue that trend.

Thorbjorn Olesen

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 CUT T18 T15

Swede has a track record of doing well on links courses, should watch.

Andy Sullivan

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T6 CUT T22 CUT

Another of those guys whose game has improved and playing well right now.

Justin Rose

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T44

Interesting to see him playing this week. hasn’t played this event since 2010. The big question is his health, if it’s doing well Rose will play well.

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win CUT CUT CUT T10 T34 T35 T50 7 CUT

The first six months of the year has been terrible, now that we are on the second half we will see. At Erin Hills he seemed very lost, have to think that his game is a bit better now, guess we will see. If you ask me my confidence level on McIlroy I will give you the political correct answer, I wouldn’t put a dollar down on Rory right now.

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Solid contenders

Lee Westwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 T53 T30 T3 T21 T5

Good links player, watch him his game is doing well right now.

Joost Luiten

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T2 66 T59 T9

Watch this guy, has played well on links courses and could do well this week.

Pablo Larrazabal

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T31 CUT T26 4 CUT T30 T16

Guy can play links courses and should be watched.

Thongchai Jaidee

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T31 T10 T18 T20

Another guy that goes under the radar screen and could do well this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT

Watch him, is one of those hidden talents that could surprise us all.

Haotong Li

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
18 T66

Playing well right now, was 7th at the French Open and was 3rd last month in Sicily.

Ian Poulter

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T60

Still think this guy is going to give us a top-three finish real soon

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