The 2017 Irish Open may be the biggest thing to hit the north of Ireland since the ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ chant when it rocks up on the shores of Portstewart Golf Club this week.
Tournament host Rory McIlroy joins the best and brightest of the European Tour as he looks to defend the title he won at The K Club last year.
With the Open looming on the horizon, finding form around this time is paramount for any golfer with hopes of claiming the precious Claret Jug. So, the eyes of the golfing world will be on the Portstewart links heading into the weekend.
As the tournament is right on our doorstep this weekend, we’ll be paying a whopping 7 PLACES (1/5th the odds) in the each way betting. So, to help you make up your mind on who to choose, we managed to tear our traders away from their coffee-stained keyboards long enough to give you their putt perfect picks.
1. Tommy Fleetwood – 12/1
The Southport native ticks every box for our number crunchers and seem very happy with life at the moment.
Fleetwood's final round 66 in under four minutes pic.twitter.com/TkZQhEL85R
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 3, 2017
He’s bang on form on the back of a win (his second of the year) at the Open de France last week, is up to a career high 15th in the world rankings and has beautiful hair to boot.
Fleetwood also has great links pedigree having had a strong amateur career in Britain and even grew up on the stuff. Playing some of the great links venues in the Liverpool area, so maintaining his long locks should pose more of a challenge than the Portstewart course for him.
2. Matthew Fitzpatrick – 30/1
He may have a baby face, but Matthew Fitzpatrick is a veteran when it comes to these conditions.
The Sheffield man is seeing the positives after losing his clubs on the way home from France last week and is a seasoned links player with outstanding potential.
Fitzpatrick has been having a solid year so far, with multiple top 20 finishes on both tours and is another with plenty of amateur experience on links.
3. Graeme McDowell – 35/1
He may have a funny accent these days, but Graeme McDowell grew up just down the road in Portrush and should possess encyclopedic knowledge of the course.
The former US Open champion has been steady on the PGA tour this season and a return to familiar surroundings should give him a real chance.
What better place for him to pick up a first win since November 2015 than right on his own doorstep?
4. Joost Luiten – 35/1
Being a Dutchman Joost Luiten knows a thing or two about windy conditions, have you not seen the amount of windmills in that country!
He won in Wales and at the Dutch Open a couple of times in blustery conditions, so if the weathervane is spinning – and in Northern Ireland it normally is – he could be the one to put your hard earned cash behind.
He’s been coming into some nice form recently and racked up four top 20s this year, he should give it a good go.
5. Pablo Larrazabal – 50/1
Along with the English, the Spaniards tend to come alive when they land on the island of Ireland with Sergio Garcia, José María Olazábal and the great Seve Ballesteros all past winners of the event.
Larrazabal is in fine fettle having logged a few good finishes the last few weeks in France and Germany, which should spur him on to tackle the Portstewart challenge.
He always seems to peak at this time of year, so don’t be surprised to see a fourth ever Spanish winner of the tournament come Sunday.
6. Brandon Stone – 66/1
The young South African has really started to progress this year, spurred on by his Alfred Dunhill Championship win at the back end of 2016.
He backed that up with pair of top 10 results at the Dubai Desert Classic and at home in the Joburg Open, so Stone will be hoping to reignite his season this weekend.
He may take inspiration from compatriot Dylan Frittelli’s success a few weeks ago at the Lyoness Open and if he does, Stone might just be an immovable object at the top if the leaderboard this weekend.
7. Jordan Smith – 70/1
Yes we know another English pick, but they all seem to go well in Ireland. Must be what’s on offer at the 19th hole!
They have all the comforts of familiar conditions and surroundings, without the pressure of performing at home.
Smith has bags of potential and could go very far in the game, we honestly don’t think he’s being rated highly enough by the market – yet.