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Irish Open preview: Rory McIlroy eyeing up K Club repeat

With no PGA Tour tournament this week, attention turns to the Irish Open, where a high-class field includes a number of players with a point to prove following Ryder Cup selection being settled.

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry are among the leading lights teeing it up at the 2006 Ryder Cup venue, while defending champion Adrian Meronk will want to make a show after missing out on a place in the Europe line-up for the showdown with the United States.

WhatIrish Open
WhereThe K Club, County Kildare
WhenThursday 7th September - Sunday 10th September 2023
How to Watchbet365 Live Golf Tracker, Sky Sports Golf
OddsRory McIlroy 7/2, Tyrrell Hatton 10/1, Min Woo Lee 18/1, Shane Lowry 20/1, Adam Scott 20/1

With the FedEx Cup playoffs completed, the Irish Open takes centre stage in golf this week and McIlroy will be looking for the perfect tune-up with the Ryder Cup just three weeks away.

McIlroy is 7/2 to win at The K Club, where he claimed the Irish Open title with a three-shot victory in 2016, the last time the prestigious venue hosted the event.

Two other players who made it into Luke Donald’s European team will also be in County Kildare.

Tyrrell Hatton is 10/1 and will be looking to build on the ninth place he posted in the Tour Championship, while Shane Lowry - who famously won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009 - will be looking to find some form after claiming just one top-ten finish this year.

The former Open champion is 20/1 for glory this week, while Sweden’s Alex Bjork is 30/1 to go one better than he did last week, when he found fellow countryman Ludvig Aberg just too strong for him.

Defending champion Meronk, who became the first Polish player to win on the DP World Tour when he triumphed at Mount Juliet 12 months ago, is a 25/1 chance.

Each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five places are available for the Irish Open, as well as alternative options, such as a fifth the odds the first eight placed in the Each Way Extra section.

Course details

As is common with many national championships, a variety of courses are used to stage the Irish Open and this will be the first time the tournament has been played at the K Club since 2016.

However, the Kildare track is one of the most famous in Ireland, having hosted the European Open between 1995 and 2003 on what was then the European Tour, but more famously, the 2006 Ryder Cup took place there, which Ian Woosnam’s Europe won 19.5-9.5.

Paul Casey hit a hole in one in that competition and there are four par-threes on the Arnold Palmer North Course, which will be used this week.

Water will come into play on many holes and the fairways are tree-lined, so finding the short grass from the tee is imperative.

McIlroy topped the greens-in-regulation standings when he won in 2016, so that could be a key indicator for the 7,441-yard par 72 test.

There is a chance of showers on the first morning of competition and rain is expected on Sunday, but Friday and Saturday are expected to be dry.

Three to follow

Adrian Meronk

Defending champions can usually be relied upon to put in bold bids, but there will be extra motivation for Adrian Meronk this week.

He won May’s Italian Open at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, which will host the Ryder Cup, and was also runner-up in 2021, so his omission from Luke Donald’s team has surprised many.

The Polish performer should be keen to put on a show after being ignored and he has the required skills to perform well at the K Club.

He was the best player in terms of greens in regulation at Mount Juliet last year and is ranked second in that metric this season, so that should stand him in good stead at 25/1.

Alexander Bjork

Alexander Bjork must be wondering what more he has to do to gain a first DP World Tour victory, after his second place in Switzerland last week was the fifth time in his last eight tournaments where he has finished in the top ten.

He is just the sort of accurate performer who could do well at The K Club and no player on the tour has gained more strokes with their approach play, so this could be a good week to keep the faith at 30/1.

Thorbjorn Olesen

Expect a good effort too from Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who was 11th at the Czech Masters a fortnight ago.

While his 40th at Crans-sur-Sierre last week may look underwhelming, he did top the GIR stats and was third in that metric when he was tied for tenth at The K Club in 2016.

He has already tasted victory at the Thailand Classic this year and was eighth in a similar test at Mount Juliet 12 months ago, so he should not be dismissed at 50/1.

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