True links golf gets the next three weeks to showcase to the world how it should be played as we head to Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland for this year’s edition of the Irish Open.
The course has some teeth to it in the Par 4’s so maintaining par and taking your shots when you can will be the play. The Par 5’s are fairly easy, which will put a premium on scoring on these holes.
There are quite a few blind shots and semi blind shots due to the number of large dunes, which doesn’t do anything for us, but could explain the scores we might see on several of the more difficult holes as they’ll be relying on their notes during practice rounds.
The weather: the toughest defense this course will have against par will be the weather, as is the case for most courses in Ireland. As of writing, there isn’t much concern about weather as temps are expected to be in the high 50’s in the morning topping out to high 60’s in the afternoon and not much, if any rain is currently in the forecast.
It should be a great tournament to tune into as it usually is, so I’m looking forward to this week’s action.
o The Course
· Lahinch Golf Club – Old Course
· Par: 70
· Yardage: 7,000 yards
· Greens: Bentgrass
o Location: Munster, Ireland
o Past Champions:
· 2018: Russell Knox -14 in a playoff over Ryan Fox [Ballyliffin]
· 2017: Jon Rahm -24 over Richie Ramsay & Matthew Southgate [Portstewart]
· 2016: Rory McIlroy -12 over Bradley Dredge & Russell Knox [The K Club]
· 2015: Soren Kjeldsen -2 in a playoff over Eddie Pepperell & Bernd Wiesberger [Royal County Down]
· 2014: Mikko Ilonen -13 over Edoardo Molinari [Fota Island]
KEY STATS TO TARGET
o Strong Emphasis – SG: OTT + SG: APP, Par 4 scoring, Birdies or better
o Important – Current Form, Scrambling
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS
- Jon Rahm (DK $11,800)
· Form: 2nd– DNP – 3rd– DNP
· Stats: Doesn’t qualify for Euro Tour stats due to lack of Euro starts
· Analysis: 2nd last week, former winner of this event two years ago at Portstewart and consensus favorite this week. With Rahm, it’s always his temper and how he’ll handle the course conditions. Last week he got knocked off by a fire hot Bezuidenhout, but if there isn’t anyone shooting an absurd Saturday score he could be the one to beat at the top.
- Matt Wallace (DK $10,700)
· Form: DNP – 3rd– 12th– DNP
· Stats: 48th– SG: OTT, 18th– SG: T2G, 62nd– SG: APP, 37th– SG: P
· Analysis: Wallace’s game has stayed on the upswing arc since the beginning of summer and looks to continue rolling. He impressed the week of the PGA, then again at the US Open and more impressively following a long travel back to Europe the week after the US Open when I said to fade (I was wrong). He’s firmly in the discussion as one of the Top Euro players in the field and should be treated as such going forward.
- Tommy Fleetwood (DK $11,300): Fleetwood finding form again overseas wouldn’t shock me the least. His 13th place finish at the Travelers was a mixed bag of emotions as he looked to have it going again early on and faltered down the stretch. The course fit seems ideal here and having him go well the next two weeks wouldn’t shock me as we head to the Open Championship where he’d be someone all the touts would be talking about.
- Martin Kaymer (DK $9,500)
· Form: DNP – 16th– 35th– DNP
· Stats: 51st– SG: OTT, 5th– SG: T2G, 7th– SG: APP, 170th– SG: P
· Analysis: Like a few others in this article, Kaymer found some form in the states recently and it could be a matter of time until he finds it for an entire tournament and blows away the competition, something he’s done in the past when at the top of his game. His game is built on a strong tee to green presence and is pushed above and beyond when he doesn’t have to scramble because the irons are off. If that happens, his putter can heat up and he’s left glancing in his rearview come Sunday.
- Abraham Ancer (DK $8,000): Windy conditions and a short course might be just what Ancer needs to get back into the form he had when we were playing him every week during the spring. His form as of late hasn’t been great, with the exception of the 8th place finish at the Travelers, but as an optimist, one could say that could be the start of a prosperous summer.
- Julian Suri (DK $7,900): Suri is still looking to get into the Open Championship and has to be feeling the burden of doing so the next two weeks. Last week’s 15th place finish was more of what we’ve been expecting from him since dedicating himself to the European Tour this season, so hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come with his game. Prior to last week, he had missed his last two cuts during a two-month span of only playing twice.
SALARY RELIEF SECTION
- Soren Kjeldsen (DK $7,100)
· Form: 39th– DNP – DNP – DNP
· Stats: 176th– SG: OTT, 67th– SG: T2G, 58th– SG: APP, 191st– SG: P
· Analysis: Winner of this event a few years ago and has a strong Irish Open history in general (Top 20’s in 2013 & 2016), playing on a shorter course should suit his game. He’s a links specialist and showed this as recently as a couple months ago when he finished T15 at Hillside.
- Nicklas Lemke (DK $6,300): Had him pegged as a play in his next event after seeing bits and pieces of his round of 64 at the British Masters awhile back and had him listed as a play prior to publishing last week’s article but scrapped him at the last minute for someone who ended up missing the cut (Angles). Lemke’s got the birdie ability to get back any bogeys made and has the distance off the tee to put himself in good positions on his approaches.
- Anton Karlsson (DK $6,300): Was a runner for a short period at the Qatar Masters some time ago and the highlights between then and now are sparse but include an opening round 63 in Belgium and last week’s 2nd round 66. As far as course fit is concerned, he’s not going to be an obvious play to many, but he has a 4th place finish at the Irish Challenge three years ago, so there may be some comfort in Irish links play. I wouldn’t throw a ton of exposure behind him, but the value is there.
CONTRARIAN CORE (GPP PLAYS)
- Rafa Cabrera Bello (DK $9,200): 3rd at the BMW International when he was well off our radar gave us a hint that he’s still here to contend when the opportunity presents itself. He’s finished in the top 10 four times in the last seven Irish Opens, so his course fit for these conditions seems unmatched and we’re not letting another good finish get by us.
- Danny Willett (DK $9,100): Willett found his form in the states as of late, which was quite shocking considering the venues he did it on (Bethpage, Hamilton and Pebble Beach) but what really stood out to me was his ball striking. Sure we know when scores aren’t going to be in the mid-teens to low twenties Willett won’t contend, but he did hang around at the US Open when scores got lower than expected. He seems to be in a much better place with his game right now and there’s much to be said about a positive outlook.
- Russell Knox (DK $8,500): Perennial Irish Open contender and winner of last year’s edition shouldn’t be overowned by the masses this week with the venue change, but Knox’s game travels well and is best suited for this type of course. His putter has been better this year which should also help keep him in red figures.
- Joakim Lagergren (DK $6,500): Kind of a long shot, but one whose familiar to this article, Lagergren’s on his way back from some horrid play and one to keep an eye on going forward. His game should fit the course for success as long as he’s burying putts.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
– Pari, (@hitthehighdraw)