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Rory McIlroy has been back and forth a bit recently but he’s my main selection for the Irish Open. He won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow back in May and he was in really good form at the US Open. He was favourite at one stage going through the turn on the back nine but he let himself down a little bit.
Despite that, his tee-to-green figures were excellent. He was ranked second at strokes gained from tee to green and he was ranked eighth off the tee.
He’s making a huge drop in class this weekend at the Irish Open. His main rivals in this field are Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood. Fleetwood hasn’t been in the best form recently and I doubt he’ll be able to get near McIlroy.
The home comforts are there for McIlroy, it’s a long golf course which should suit him and there’s also a drop in class so he’s a really good bet this week.
Shane Lowry has been playing great recently but he put in a bit of an uncharacteristic performance at the US Open. Everyone expected better things heading into it as he’d impressed in America recently. He was fourth in the PGA Championship and sixth at the Memorial.
He’s coming into the Irish Open with a great record and he won here as an amateur over 10 years ago. The course should suit him too.
Then he’s got a nice run, with the Irish Open, the Scottish Open and then at long last the Open Championship at St George’s where he can defend his crown. I’m expecting good things from Lowry this week but if McIlroy turns up and is in top form, he’ll be really hard to beat.
Lucas Herbert is a bigger odds pick but he’s worth looking at. He was quiet at the start of the year but he put in two good performances in America over the last couple of weeks. He was 18th at the Memorial tournament and 19th last week at the Travelers Championship. Similar to McIlroy, this is a significant class drop for Herbert, who is a proven European Tour winner. He won the Dubai Desert Classic 18 months ago.
His ball-striking statistics were really good in America last week and that was against the likes of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. If you’re putting up good numbers against those guys in that field, the drop in class should really help him at the Irish Open. He can go really well at the price.
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