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BlogIrish Open Preview and Picks

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

July 5th – 8th, 2018

Ballyliffin G.C.

Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal, Northern Ireland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,462

Purse: $7 million

with $1,166,660 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jon Rahm

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 23 of the top 100 and 6 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Golf Rankings, with two from the top-ten, #5 Jon Rahm, #8 Rory McIlroy. The rest are #25 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #13 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, #39 Matthew Fitzpatrick and #42 Haotong Li.

Last year there was 11 top 50 players in the field

The field includes 16 of the Top 25 on this year’s European Tour Race to Dubai money list.  #5 Rory McIlory, #6 Thorbjorn Olesen, #8 Tyrrell Hatton #9 Rafael Cabrera-Bello #10 Jon Rahm, #11 Shubhankar Sharma, #12 Alexander Bjork, #13 Li Haotong, #14 Matt Wallace, #15 Jorge Campillo, #16 Alexander Levy, #19 Adrian Otaegui #20 Matthew Fitzpatrick #21 Chris Wood, #22 Julian Suri and #25 Russell Knox

The field includes nine past champions: Jon Rahm (2017), Rory McIlroy (2016), Soren Kjeldsen (2015), Mikko Ilonen (2014), Jamie Donaldson (2012), Shane Lowry (2009), Padraig Harrington (2007), 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 the 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 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 French Open BMW Inter. Travelers U.S. Open Shot Clock Masters Italian Open Memorial BMW PGA Belgian Knockout The Players Sicilian Open China Open Trophee Hassan
Mikko Korhonen
(209.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
Thorbjorn Olesen
(206.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
T37
(4.33)
DNP
Russell Knox
(187 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP T38
(12)
T12
(76)
DNP DNP T44
(4)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP
Lucas Bjerregaard
(176.67 pts)
T61
(0)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP 6
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(176.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 15
(70)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T5
(70)
DNP T30
(10)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Chris Wood
(176 pts)
T2
(100)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T27
(23)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(164.33 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T46
(2)
DNP DNP DNP
Matt Wallace
(158.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
Alexander Bjork
(157.33 pts)
T8
(50)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T3
(30)
Andy Sullivan
(150.67 pts)
T21
(29)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
Rory McIlroy
(146.33 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(38)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(137.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T36
(28)
DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP
Haotong Li
(125.67 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP T16
(68)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Adrian Otaegui
(121.67 pts)
T12
(38)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
Win
(44)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
2
(33.33)
T19
(10.33)
Julian Suri
(121 pts)
T2
(100)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(14)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP
Jorge Campillo
(108.33 pts)
T8
(50)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
5
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T3
(30)
T46
(1.33)
Soren Kjeldsen
(107 pts)
T49
(1)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T17
(11)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Justin Walters
(101 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP 22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Marcus Kinhult
(98 pts)
T5
(70)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Thomas Detry
(95 pts)
T16
(34)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T43
(7)
33
(5.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
Jordan L Smith
(83.67 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T46
(1.33)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T52
(0)
Ryan Fox
(81.33 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP T41
(18)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T43
(7)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
12
(12.67)
Matthew Southgate
(75.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(23)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Nicolas Colsaerts
(75 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
7
(18.33)
DNP T3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Wade Ormsby
(72 pts)
T12
(38)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP T30
(13.33)
T71
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T52
(0)
Scott Hend
(71.67 pts)
T44
(6)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Shane Lowry
(71 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
T15
(35)
DNP T46
(2)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP
Thomas Pieters
(68.67 pts)
T31
(19)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
Lee Slattery
(68.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T45
(5)
DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
3
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T32
(6)
Mike Lorenzo-vera
(68.33 pts)
T16
(34)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP T43
(7)
8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
Graeme McDowell
(67.67 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(64.67 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Benjamin Hebert
(62 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T35
(15)
2
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T13
(12.33)
Nacho Elvira
(61.67 pts)
T53
(0)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
T22
(9.33)
Aaron Rai
(61.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T46
(1.33)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
T52
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player French Open BMW Inter. Travelers U.S. Open Shot Clock Masters Italian Open Memorial BMW PGA Belgian Knockout The Players Sicilian Open China Open Trophee Hassan
Zander Lombard
(-50 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Carlos Pigem
(-50 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
S.S.P. Chawrasia
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Clement Sordet
(-41.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Renato Paratore
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
61
(0)
Chase Koepka
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Daniel Im
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
T78
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rakhyun Cho
(-37 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T64
(0)
T41
(3)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Evans
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
T47
(2)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
Chris Hanson
(-36 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T27
(7.67)
T41
(3)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Amazing on how just five 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 helped to bring 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 competition won’t go away and has no problems striving as the prize fund has doubled to seven million pounds.  In 2011 first place paid around $360,000 while this year first place will pay $1,166,660 a drastic increase.  The good news came last month that Dubai Duty-Free has extended their title sponsorship of this event until 2022 which means this event will live on.

This year the event is being played at Ballyliffin G.C., which is in the town of Ballyliffin, Northern Ireland (population, 426).  It’s about 18 miles north of Londonderry and 30 miles (if you flew) to Portrush which is going to hold next years British Open.  This is a gem of a course, the most northerly course, located off the Tullagh Point on the Atlantic edge of the Inishowen Peninsula.  The problem with this course is how isolated it is very anything.  It’s at the end of a Peninsula, and the town of Ballyliffin is tiny, just a couple of places to stay.  But as there are dozens of great courses under ten miles from Portstewart, site of last year’s Irish Open, there is no course within 10 miles of Ballyliffin.  Another problem, you have to pass Londonderry to get to Ballyliffin, and for many the words, Londonderry brings back the violence of the Northern Ireland conflicts.  But that was over 30 years ago, and Londonderry is an entirely different town now.

Course information:
  • Ballyliffin G.C
  • Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal, Northern Ireland
  • 7,462 yards     Par 35-37–72
  • What a dream course this is, I was first introduced to this gem via my friendship with Pat Ruddy, who owns the European Club outside of Dublin.  Ruddy is also a course architect, and he had an essential part to the growth of this course.  In 1991 the course realized it’s isolation and how their old course was terribly out of date.  The course owned a lot of land along the sea, and with the help of Ruddy and Tom Craddock, they felt they could design one of the finest links ever.  So the club entrusted the duo, and they started work in 1993 to produce the Glashedy links.  The course opened in  opened in 995 and was described as the “Ballybunion of the North.”  Some of the course plays through towering natural dunes along with some holes on a flattened out area.
  • In a way, the course is like Royal Birkdale.  The course is intertwined with some holes of the old course along with several holes in the dunes.  The greens are massive with a lot of undulation, and there are eleven par 4s (all but one) over 400 yards while four of them are over 450 yards.  The major challenge comes from the sea itself; if it’s blowing like it is most days, the course will be a brute.  Ruddy came in last year and made some changes to some fairway bunkers and added more yardage.  The rough will be high and almost impossible for those that don’t hit it straight.
  • The club held the Irish Seniors Open in 2008, and the course was well received.  Juan Quiros won it at 1 under, and I will be the winning score for this week will be about the same.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Rory McIlroy – $11,800
  • Jon Rahm – $11,600
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello $10,400
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick – $10,100
  • Andy Sullivan – $9,800
  • Thorbjorn Olesen – $9,700
  • Russell Knox – $9,600
  • Paul Dunne – $9,500
  • Peter Uihlein – $9,300
  • Shane Lowery – $9,100
  • Thomas Pieters – $9,000

So you have to like the top two players, Rory McIlroy at $11,800 has played a lot on this course since he was a junior player.  We know he has been very inconsistent, but he likes the course and will play very hard, so he is safe to pick.  Jon Rahm at $11,600 showed that he could play links courses with his win last year at Portstewart and this course is very similar, so he is a good pick.  Cabrera-Bello at $10,400 is also a good pick, playing well but he missed the cut at Portstewart last year so that could be a concern. Matthew Fitzpatrick at $10,100 could work, he has played a lot of links course in his career.  Also like Thorbjorn Olesen at $9,700, again he has been good of late and performs well on links course.  Russell Knox at $9,600 may be a bit of a worry, but he is playing good and was T-2nd in 2012 in this event.  Paul Dunne at $9,500 has been looking forward to playing this course and should do ok.  The same with Peter Uihlein at $9,300, he is coming over from America because he likes the course and feels he will play well.  As for Shane Lowery at $9,100 and Thomas Pieters at $9,000 they aren’t my top picks but there ok for this week.

*Players in that $7,600 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Kiradech Aphibarnrat at $8,700 is good, he has played well this year and likes links courses. Alexander Bjork at $8,600 is also a good pick because of his play of late, very consistent.  Lucas Bjerregaard at $8,400 is a guy that is ready to bust out, I like him.  Matt Wallace at $8,000 is a good buy, remember he won two weeks ago in Germany. Jorge Campillo at $8,000 is worth a look, good record on links course and played well this week. I am shocked that you can get Alexander Levy at $7,800, that is an excellent price for him.

 

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Irish Open

Hard to find any gems in the under $7,500 barrier.  Scott Hend at $7500 strikes me as a guy that plays well, the same with David Lipsky.  Dylan Frittelli at $7,300 is also a good pick, very undervalued.  Watch Shubhankar Sharma at $7,300, he has been in a three-month funk, and I see him breaking out. One other person to watch is Hideto Tanihara at $7,200, he has always been a solid player.

 

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

Key stat for the winner:

  • Hard to gauge what the keys are to winning at Ballyliffin.  They have held amateur events and a senior event but not the caliber of players that will play it this week.  So the course will be hard to predict.  But you can bet that weather will play an important part.  Ballyliffin 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 used 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 you’re lucky, the average 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 terribly Irish summer day, winds blowing up to 45 mph, rain following diagonally and just really miserable conditions.  Now playing a real 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 Ballyliffin, cloudy temperatures in the low 60s and winds coming from the northwest at 10 to 15 mph.  Each day will be cloudy, but no rain is expected.
  • 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 prepared than Ballyliffen, 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 entirely different in which the elements didn’t make the difference.  But look for that golfer that has shown substantial improvements in the last ten weeks.

Who to watch for at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT Win CUT CUT CUT T10 T34 T35 T50 7

Is there anyone else that is the favorite? Has played this course a lot over the last 15 years.

Jon Rahm

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win

Our defending champion, shown a lot with his victory at Portstewart, Ballyliffin is a lot like Portstewart.

Paul Dunne

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T54 T60

Like him a lot, has been talking about the course and how much he is looking forward to this week.

Best of the rest:

Thorbjorn Olesen

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T48 T10 CUT T18 T15

He will be knocking on the door, has played well of late.

Andy Sullivan

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T20 CUT T6 CUT T22 CUT

It’s getting close to his time to win, plays well on Links course.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T8 T4 T26 T5 T2 CUT CUT T20 T37

I think of his win in the Scottish Open last year and realize that this week will be a lot like that and Rafael could win.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T54 CUT T8 T29

Another lover of links courses.

 

Solid contenders

Peter Uihlein

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 T60 T32

Guy comes back to Europe, loves this kind of golf.

Lucas Bjerreguard

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Has had a good year, looking to make it better with a win.

Russell Knox

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T2

Loves links courses that is the reason he comes over to Europe early.

Shane Lowery

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Irish player that we are surprised that he doesn’t get in the running each week.

Long shots that could come through:

Matt Wallace

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT

This guy is the surprise of 2018 and he could surprise some folks this week.

Dylan Frittelli

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT

Another guy looking for a comeback.

Shubhankar Sharma

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Has been in a terrible funk the last three months, look to break out of that slump this week.

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