A strong field of European golfers head over to Lahinch Golf Club in Munster for the 2019 Irish Open.
Robert Knox took the title last year after edging out Ryan Fox in a play-off at Ballyliffin. The Scot will be in contention again this year as the players continue their Open Championship preparations.
Lahinch is a course that evokes a lot of positive sentiment from members of the tour. Phil Mickelson once placed it alongside Augusta in his favourite courses and with the likes of the sixth hole practically swallowed whole by Liscannor Bay, there’ll be no shortage of postcard camera angles to enjoy.
Our Golf expert previews the tournament and gives you the best bets to look out for here.
For the second successive year the big Spaniard comes into this event as the bookies favourite. He won by six shots at Portstewart in 2017 and made a solid defence when finishing tied fourth last year.
His season has improved as it’s gone on, finishing third at the US Open and tied second at Valderrama last week. He’ll be hoping he can bring his strong play from the tee forward into this event as well as the Open in two weeks’ time. Rahm is available at around 7/1 to win at Grosvenorsport.com.
The former Open champion has always looked at home on European links courses and I’d expect him to go well both this week and at Royal Portrush. He threatened to challenge at Pebble Beach, but just tailed off during the final round as he finished a respectable tied seventh.
The South African hasn’t played this tournament since the links layouts were introduced and having grown up playing in windy coastal courses, he should be well suited to conditions here. He’s a contender at 14/1 to win or 5/1 to be inside the top five.
Another with a strong links pedigree after record wins at the Dunhill in 2016 and 2017, he shouldn’t be discounted from going close here. He may only have finished tied 21st at the US Open but the Englishman’s all round game impressed at Pebble Beach.
Although his highest finish of the year was tied eighth at the Charles Swarb challenge, he finished tied fourth at County Down in 2015 and is a definite top-five contender this week at 5/1. He may struggle to win in such a high-quality field, but could be worth a punt at 20/1 at Grosvenorsport.com.
The tournament would benefit from an Irish contender and I’m throwing G-Mac’s name in the hat. The 2010 US Open winner is one of the most popular men in golf and the Irish fans especially would relish seeing him high up the leaderboard.
He’s only finished inside the top-10 once in this tournament, but I fancy him to change that this week after his late upturn in form. After finally sealing his place at Portrush, he finished tied eighth in Canada before finishing inside the top 20 at the US Open.