Accurate and competent wind players are what should be your main focus of attention as the European Tour hits my blustery homeland of Ireland. A fabulous Dunluce links course at Portrush GC awaits some of the finest golfers this week
No surprise that wind and rain are forecasted to play a big role in proceedings and while fairways may be generous, stray from the short grass and finding your ball will be difficult in extreme rough. Scoring may be made on the short par fives.
Irish Open Picks - In-play tips and updates on Twitter: @Nicspicks
Pick #1: Simon Dyson e/w @ 35/1(general) Tipped for the Irish Open last year, Dyson returns to these shores ready for another assault on Irish soil. One of the best links players around with three European Tour wins on links courses, Dyson found some form, after injury problems, last week in Germany, finishing 12th in blustery conditions over the weekend. Shot shaping and accurate iron play are some of Dyson's strengths and it's no coincidence his record on links tracks is such a good one.
Pick #2: Gonzalo Fdez Castano e/w @ 40/1 (general) With a touch of Ernie Els in his swing, Gonzo is another player who excels in windy conditions. Memories cast back to early in the season where he took the first round lead in Qatar in extreme blustery conditions and he made it look easy. Two top fives in his last three starts and slow greens at the Irish Open in Portrush will help his short putting problems.
Pick #3: Joost Luiten e/w @ 66/1(SB) Joost is another who knows how to cope in windy conditions. Prominent in the wind swept Trophee Hassan earlier in the year, Luiten put runs of birdies together and at one stage looked like he'd run away with the tournament. Surprisingly enough Luiten hit 70% of fairways in 2011 and sneaks in to the Irish Open picks this week due to a relatively very favourable price.
Sleeper Watch: Alan Dunbar is a Portrush native who grew up playing golf very close to this course. The recent Amateur Championship winner and Walker cup man will be well used to conditions and may be one to watch in the first round leader market(100). Other Irish flying under the radar in this market are Damien McGrane (80) and Paul cutler (200 now best price - SJ), the former who gave subscribers a 100/1 FRL winner earlier in the year and shot a second round 66 in Germany last week.
My one under the radar this week is Stephen Gallagher. Available e/w at around 100/1 in both the first round leader and outright markets, Gallagher is in fine form and is well used to windy conditions, having grown up in Scotland. Started brightly at the BMW but fell away. Form kept up at the Open Championship qualifying this Monday.
If you don't fancy backing the shorter priced players in a tournament where wind and rain will possibly make it somewhat of a lottery, backing numerous golfers at huge odds and for smaller stakes (dutching style) on Betfair is a strategy that has paid for me, especially with a view to trading your picks - more info here