The golfing world’s attention will be fixed on the North-West corner of Ireland this week, as Ballyliffin Golf Club plays host to a traditional staple of the golfing summer, the Irish Open.
Rory McIlroy and his foundation have given the event a serious boost since he got involved a few years ago and it boasts some big names, a chunky prize fund and a nice spot in the schedule.
We’re now into a stretch for the golfing purists, with the Irish Open & Scottish Open both leading us into the 147th Open Championship. Ballyliffin, Gullane & Carnoustie are all pure links tests which provide a nice change of pace from the usual fare.
Ballyliffin itself is pretty straight forward, posing a traditional links test. Most of the course is right in front of the player, with very few blind shots. Scoring may be quite good this week with winds predicted to be on the gentle side.
As several of my shirts & underwear will attest to, we’ve had a sustained period of unusually warm weather in this country. This has been no different on the shores of Donegal, with players confirming that the place is baked, with fairways & greens running very firm indeed.
There looks to be a constant breeze throughout the week, but nothing notable. It’s hard to see the big guns having much advantage this week with the course running so fast. McIlroy and Rahm both generally rely on their driving prowess to separate themselves from the rest and that won’t really be worth much this week.
For our best outright bet (and no footballing bias whatsoever comes into play here!) we are looking to a Swede to deliver for us. Alexander Bjork isn’t a long hitter by any means, but he is very tidy at all other parts of the game, which will be needed this week.
He has really established himself this year on the European Tour. A tied third place at the Trophee Hassan was followed by up by claiming his maiden European Tour title in China and as a result of his eight place finish in France last week he sits 12th currently on the Race to Dubai. Added to this, Scandinavians tend to relish coming to the emerald isle. He should go very well and he’s a big price with eight places on offer.