Irish Open Betting Tips: Six selections for Kilkenny
Fresh from his 1-2 at the BMW International Open priced 66/1 and 22/1, Jamie Worsley is back with his tips for this week's Irish Open on the DP World Tour. Jamie is operating at a profit of +128.55pts this year with a ROI of 66.87% with four winners and six places from his selections on the DP World Tour...
We enjoyed a good week on the DP World Tour last week at the BMW International Open. Landing the winner with Haotong Li at 66/1, with places for Thomas Pieters at 22/1 and Romain Langasque at 50/1 to go with it. It was particularly pleasing to watch the talented Chinese player get back to something like his best, opening with a superb ten-under 62 on day one and leading from there on in, attacking the scorable course from the get-go and notwithstanding a few breaks over the last 18 and a bit holes, was a deserving winner.
He had to do it the hard-way in the end though, with many ups and downs during the final round, though constantly showing a fantastic fighting spirit and will to win, bouncing back from errors by birdieing holes shortly after.
This didn’t stop Thomas Pieters tying him on the 72nd hole and taking the event to a playoff, in which he looked every bit the winner after both players got the ball greenside on the par 5 18th. Pieters then proceeded to hit his bunker-shot to 10 feet for birdie, whilst Haotong hit a shaky chip 40+ feet past the hole.
Incredible to then see him hole that, in turn forcing Pieters to hole his just to prolong the playoff, something he wasn’t able to do, handing Li his first victory in four years, unleashing an outpouring of emotion in the aftermath. It was great to see such a talent back in the winner’s circle and he’s sure to be a big player on the DPWT moving forward.
Now onto this week and with the Scottish Open to come next week, the final event before The Open Championship, we first stop off in the Emerald Isle for the Irish Open.
This year we head back to Mount Juliet Golf Estate for the second year on the bounce, after it held this prestigious championship for the first time since 1995 last year. There we saw Australia’s Lucas Herbert run out an impressive three shot winner and the field will once again not just be vying for the title but also, for the players not already exempt into The Open at St Andrews in two weeks’ time, three highly sought after spots are up for grabs.
Irish Open Tips
- Min Woo Lee 35/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 1.25 pts ew
- Adri Arnaus 40/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1.25 pts ew
- Romain Langasque 40/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1.25 pts ew
- Guido Migliozzi 70/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Kurt Kitayama 75/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 1 pt ew
- Sami Valimaki 150/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
The Jack Nicklaus designed signature course at Mount Juliet is a par 72, measuring 7264 yards. Made up of the traditional 10 par 4s, 4 par 5s and 4 par 3s.
As seen by Lucas Herbert’s winning score of -19 last year, the course is there for the taking. The par 4s aren’t the most punishing you’ll find, with just two measuring over 450 yards, including the tough 480 yard 18th hole. The par 3s include just one over 200 yards and excluding the 603 yard 8th hole, the other three par 5s are all reachable. There are an abundance of scoring chances throughout.
This is helped further by generous tree-lined fairways that aren’t too demanding should you miss and large greens that are generally easy to find. The main dangers coming from sand and water, typical of a Nicklaus design, with water in-play on around half of the holes and plenty of bunkers surrounding the greens.
Lucas Herbert won the event last year producing all-round quality but excelling particularly off-the-tee, where he ranked 7th and on the greens, where he ranked 5th. He was chased home by Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg who was excellent in approach, ranking 2nd and Johannes Veerman in 3rd was similar to Herbert, playing well across the board but helped more by the driver and putter.
Though the course and holes are all short enough to give everyone a chance it is hard not to acknowledge how much of a benefit power was last year. Herbert has always been long off-the-tee and indeed last year was 5th in driving distance, whilst Veerman can also send it out there. Along with players like Grant Forrest and Sean Crocker also hitting the top 10 last year.
Quality approach play will also be key, as it usually is with low scoring events and even more so this week as plenty of rain is set to make the course very receptive. The course of action this week will be to predominantly look for strong, long drivers who can bully these par 4s and par 5s, leaving short wedge shots into many of the greens and combine it with a hot putter.
With one event staged here in the last 20 or so years, it’s hard to find serious form-ties to last year. Though there are still some courses I think should correlate nicely to this week’s test.
I’m going to jump in with last week’s course, Golf Club Munchen Eichenried, host of the BMW International Open every year except 2012/14/16/18. I feel this week’s event will play very similar, with both being scorable courses of a similar length and with generous, tree-lined fairways.
We saw form-ties developing there last year, with both Rikard Karlberg and 4th place finisher Richard Bland possessing top 5s in Eichenried. Thomas Pieters and Darius Van Driel also possessing some form at both courses.
Next we have Albatross Golf Course, host of the Czech Masters. Though more exposed than this week’s tree-lined test, the fairways are generous and it’s a course where strong drivers of the ball usually go well.
Both 2nd and 3rd place finishers here last year, Karlberg and Veerman have gone well there, Karlberg 5th in 2019 and Veerman was the winner at Albatross last year. Sean Crocker was runner-up to Veerman and finished top 10 here in 2021, with Australia’s Jason Scrivener also finishing 9th in Ireland last year, possessing a top 5 at Albatross GC. Not forgetting Thomas Pieters is a two-time champion there.
The Dom Pedro Victoria Course in Vilamoura, host of the Portugal Masters can provide further clues. It’s a scorable resort course where strong drivers often excel.
Last year’s Irish Open winner, Herbert ties this in, possessing 2nd and 8th place finishes in Portugal, whilst Johannes Veerman has also gone well in Portugal, finishing 8th. With further strong finishes at both courses found from, Francesco Laporta, Matthew Jordan and Jason Scrivener, as well as Pieters tying it together again, winning in Portugal last year.
I’m a little more cautious with Crans-Sur-Sierre, where the Omega European Masters is staged, as it’s a more claustrophobic, tight course but I include it as it possessed as much correlating form as any other course I looked at. Potentially due to the playability of the course and the amount of shorter par 4s you can get at.
Richie Ramsay was 4th in Ireland last year and is a past champion in Switzerland. Both of last year’s top 2, Herbert and Karlberg have recorded top 10s there too, which is also the case for Richard Bland, Sean Crocker and Andrew Johnston, who all finished inside the top 10 in the 2021 Irish Open. Making it 6 of that top 10 with strong form at Crans.
Finally I thought the London Golf Club’s Heritage Course, which hosted last year’s Cazoo Classic may also be a guide. It’s another Nicklaus design, generous off the tee with a lot of water in-play.
Form-ties are hard to find, with just the two events staged between the two courses in recent years. Though we do find Richard Bland popping up again, finishing 3rd there at London GC and a little further down was Dale Whitnell in 13th, who was 4th here in Ireland last year.
Rain, rain and more rain is forecast right throughout the week, with Sunday being the first day of the week in which it’s not forecast to rain at all. Playing in rain is never easy, despite the likely receptive course and added to a stiff breeze currently predicted on every day of the tournament, means scoring may not get crazy low. However I still expect those who are out there when the rain has ceased, to be able to fill up on birdies. A similar winning score to last year looks on the cards.
The event has attracted a strong field with this year, as Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton both return from the U.S to feature this week. In addition to this we have Seamus Power making his first appearance since 2019 and now a top 50 in the world player, may well fancy his chances of winning his home open more than ever before.
In addition we have last year’s winner, Lucas Herbert, last week’s 2nd in Germany, Thomas Pieters and Irish golfing legend Padraig Harrington, who arrives off the back of his first senior major success last week, winning the US Senior Open on debut.
As expected, Shane Lowry heads the market at 9/1 and is then followed by Seamus Power at 14s, no interest in either at the prices. Tyrell Hatton made some appeal at 20s, though the two at this end that I was most interested in are last week’s 2nd and 3rd, Thomas Pieters and Ryan Fox. Both are exactly the type I’m looking at and with last week’s event looking a decent guide they made sense.
However I opted against both, Pieters must’ve felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach when Haotong Li holed that monster putt in the playoff and may not be mentally quite there for this week. Whilst it’s been a long stretch of good golf from Fox, I still have doubts about him as a real winner, so at a similar price in a stronger field I decided against it.
Instead I begin in the 35/40 range with a trio of young, talented players, who all pack a punch off-the-tee and can use that to score well around here. Starting with Min Woo Lee, who I’m hoping can emulate what compatriot, Lucas Herbert did here last year.
Lee has spent most of his year playing over in the U.S. Life was initially difficult over there and he struggled to get any part of his game firing. He turned things around at The Masters, putting up an excellent 14th place finish and though he missed his next three starts in a row following that result, there were much more positive signs in his game, culminating in another strong major performance on his last start, when he was 27th in the US Open two-weeks ago.
Top players returning to action on the DPWT should always carry huge respect and I’m hoping he can carry that momentum over to this week as he makes his return to the tour.
Since The Masters, Min Woo has started to drive the ball to the high standard we know he can, gaining strokes in each of those last five starts, including the three missed cuts. In addition to this, the short-game has started to fire, gaining strokes on and around-the-greens in four of his last six starts.
The one blot has been the irons, an area often his weakness. However in that 27th place finish at Brookline last time out, we saw some encouraging signs there too. As he gained strokes in both the 3rd and 4th rounds, the first time this year he’s managed to do this in consecutive rounds this year. With his quality and length off-the-tee, as well as that recent strong play with the short-game, if he can keep the improvement coming in approach, he looks perfect this week.
Lee finished 17th last year, firing three rounds in the 60s, with a third round 73 his undoing in terms of contending. In addition to this he has a top 10 in Portugal, finishing 8th last year and he also played solidly at Crans too, finishing 21st.
Next week he returns to the scene of his biggest success as the reigning Scottish Open champion. After the way he performed here last year, we know he suits the course and with the way his game is gradually improving, he can return to Scotland with another trophy in the cabinet.
Spain’s talented Adri Arnaus finally got the monkey off his back of being winless on the DPWT in the Catalunya Championship a couple of months ago. This was the reward for a strong run of results on tour this year and with a game that should suit the test, I think he has a good chance to go in again.
Before the win in Spain, Arnaus had racked up four top 10s in his first eight starts of the year, his previous best effort when finishing 2nd in the MyGolfLife Open in South Africa. He’s maintained solid form in his next four starts since his win, finishing 30th in the PGA Championship and 16th in the Porsche European Open, before missing the cut in the US Open last time out.
The way this form has been engineered is what makes him so compelling this week, as he fits the mould we’re looking for to a tee. He’s a strong ball-striker, ranking 43rd off-the-tee and 31st in approach, also one of the longest hitters on tour, ranking 9th in driving distance. In addition to this it has been pleasing to see him carry on the much improved putting that he showed last year, an area that had previously been his achilles heel, ranking 21st this year on the greens.
Arnaus played here last year, starting well with rounds of -5 and -3, before a poor weekend dropped him down to a 56th place finish. Excuses made as his ball-striking was really off the boil last year and he was overly reliant on the putter. He does have some strong correlating form , as a runner-up in the Czech Masters, as well as possessing a 6th place finish in the Euro Masters and 8th in Portugal.
He always looked like a strong DPWT player in the making following a high class amateur career and has now established himself fully in the pro ranks. I expect that win to open up the floodgates for Arnaus, leading to Ryder Cup contention and plenty more titles, starting with this week.
Romain Langasque was a no-brainer for me this week. He continued the strong form he’d shown for much of the year last week, finishing 5th in Germany and showing quality right across the board with his game, looks set for another good week in Ireland.
His performance last week was engineered by quality right across the board, though he excelled off-the-tee, ranking 5th. This all-round quality is what has helped him to five top 10s this year and he ranks 16th on tour tee-to-green. Approach play has been the standout area overall, ranking 13th, combined with a more than solid putter, where he ranks 77th and possessing enough power off-the-tee, he looks well suited to this week’s venue.
This was not evident last year, as Langasque missed the cut, though his game wasn’t in a good place, with form figures of MC-66-MC-65-MC leading into his visit to Ireland in 2021. We can draw confidence from last week and he’s also finished 7th in the European Masters.
Langasque showed with his first DPWT win in Wales last year that he can handle tricky, wet conditions, so should be comfortable if the weather makes this a little tough and going back to his amateur years has always gone well in the Britain and Ireland, indeed he won the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie in 2015. With every area of his game firing and coming in here off the back of his best finish of the year last week, he has every chance to add to that solo DPWT at Mount Juliet.
After a poor start to 2022, that saw the talented Guido Migliozzi miss the cut in seven of his first eight starts, he’s started to show improvements over recent months. This led to him renewing his affinity with the US Open last time out, as he finished 14th at The Country Club and he can pick up where he left off in Ireland this week.
Migliozzi’s form had started to show a positive upturn back at the Spanish double header in April/May, making his first two consecutive cuts of the year in the ISPS Handa Championship and Catalunya Championship. He continued this in the starts prior to the good performance in the US Open, finishing 52nd in Belgium before producing his best finish of the year to date, when finishing 10th in the Dutch Open.
At his best, Guido is a strong ball-striker and it was this ball-striking prowess that took him to two DPWT titles in no time, as he won the Kenya Open and Belgian Knockout in 2019. He struck the ball well for much of the earlier part of last year, though tailed off in the latter part and had carried that over to this year, resulting in his poor run of form.
The main reason he was able to turn his form around was because of him finding form on the greens but there have been positive signs that his ball-striking is returning, no more on show than at the US Open. He ranked 25th for the week in approach, looking particularly good over the weekend, including signing off by gaining over 3 strokes with his irons in the final round and ranking 3rd in the field. Along with this the driver also behaved much better over the final two rounds there, where he was much less wild and gained strokes in both rounds.
He didn’t play here last year but has strong form at Crans, where he’s finished 7th. Also possessing a decent record in Portugal, finishing 36th and 14th on two attempts there.
Migliozzi is a serious talent and though he hasn’t won since 2019, he’s continued to threaten, including three runner-up finishes last year. Now finally coming through a poor run of form he looks a danger again and if able to replicate the much better ball-striking he showed over the weekend at the US Open, can produce his best result of the year this week.
America’s Kurt Kitayama is enjoying a good first year on the PGA Tour. He’s missed plenty of cuts but along with that he’s contended more than once, finishing 2nd in the Mexico Open and 3rd in the Honda Classic, showing some high class approach play throughout the year. Returning to a tour in which he’s had some great success, as a two-time DPWT winner, this big hitter can leave behind some more underwhelming results among his most recent starts and go well in the much calmer waters of the DPWT.
Though he’d only made one cut of his last four, when finishing 40th in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, Kitayama has maintained quality off-the-tee, gaining strokes in his last six starts. The irons have gone a little off the boil but an overall ranking of 40th for the season in approach shows the quality he’s capable of in this regard. I’m hoping we get that version of Kitayama this week.
With his power and quality off-the-tee, along with a strong approach game, he looks a good fit for this week. That was not on show last year when he finished 69th and played inexplicably poorly over the weekend but I’m sure he’s capable of better.
He’s finished top 25 at the BMW International and though not mentioned above, there are some decent form-ties with the Dubai Desert Classic. Herbert of course won his other DPWT event there and Richard Bland was 2nd this year, this is a course Kitayama has finished 6th and 20th on his latest two visits, so does provide some encouragement as to this week.
Much like Min Woo Lee, players returning to the DPWT after long periods of golf stateside should be respected, particularly ones who have shown such strong levels of winning form at this level. With some confidence building performances on the PGA Tour for Kitayama this year, I’m expecting him to use that to overpower Mount Juliet this week.
Young Finn, Sami Valimaki had endured a largely forgettable year in 2022. This changed last week, as he finished 4th at the BMW International Open. With the arsenal he has at his disposal, in the shape of power off-the-tee and excellent ability on the greens, he can keep it going this week.
Valimaki turned pro in 2019 as a player with great potential, after rising as high as #10 in the amateur rankings. He quickly started to assert himself in the lower echelons of the European golf scene, winning four times on the Pro Golf Tour in 2019, a breeding ground for many top players.
He then earned his DPWT tour card through Q School at the end of that year, winning playing rights for 2020. It took him no time at all to make a name for himself, as he went on to win the Oman Open on just his third start of the year. Continuing to show form for the rest of that year, picking up a further three top 10s.
2021 was much more subdued as Valimaki struggled with his ball-striking, something he carried over to much of the early part to this year but has finally started to turn a corner. The irons in particular have perked up and he ranks 89th on tour this season, nothing spectacular but much improved on last year and whilst he’s still liable to have a shocker with the driver, he’s produced better performances over his last 7/8 starts. A player who doesn’t lack for power off-the-tee but has been marrying it with accuracy plenty over the last couple of months.
He really fits the bill when you combine that with the quality he has on the greens and though missing the cut here last year, it’s easily forgiven due to his ball-striking being so far off what is required. Instead I prefer to look at that 4th place finish last week as a guide as to what he can do on this type of setup.
Such was the quality of his golf in 2020, it took Valimaki to the prestigious Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award. Things haven’t gone quite as smoothly since, but last week’s 4th place finish reminded us of what the talented Finn is capable of and he can give us another reminder this week.