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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Horizon Irish Open (2023)

With the dust of the Ryder Cup selections settled, the DP World Tour turns its attention to the Horizon Irish Open.

For the first time since Rory McIlroy claimed victory in 2016, the K Club will play host to this nomadic event.

This season marks the 68th edition of one of the World’s oldest national championships that’s still in existence today.

Although the Irish Open has a bit of a spotty history, it has been a staple on the DP World Tour schedule since 1974.

This year’s venue, the K Club, too will be the host of the 2025 and 2027 editions as well.

The Field

Although as of the time of writing this, the European Ryder Cup Team has not officially been announced, the dust of what was a governing storyline for the DP World Tour for the past few months has settled.

With that, we’ll see a quieter field than what we’ve seen in recent weeks. That doesn’t mean that the star power isn’t there for this week however.

McIlroy is the biggest name playing this week as he looks to repeat as an Irish Open Champion at the K Club.

Joining him is Masters’ Champion Danny Willett and Adam Scott, who is making his 250th DP World Tour appearance.

Other notable names teeing it up this week include Tyrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee and Billy Horschel.

Shane Lowry will be looking to claim his nation’s championship after gaining a wildcard selection to Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team. He’ll be looking to use this week to catch some form after failing to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour.

Not only have we seen some big names claim victory at the Irish Open, we’ve seen an extensive list of multi-time winners as well. Jon Rahm won this event in both 2017 and 2019.

In all, 11 players have won the Irish Open on more than one occasion.

Adrian Meronk comes into this week as the defending Horizon Irish Open Champion. Meronk won last year at Mount Juliet.

Other former Irish open champions playing this week include John Catlin (2020,) McIlroy (2016) and Soren Kjeldsen (2015.)

The Course

The Palmer Ryder Cup Course at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland plays as a par 72 at 7,350 yards.

This parkland course was designed in 1991 and has water in play on 15 holes. The fairways are poa annua/ryegrass and the greens are poa annua.

Along with hosting the Irish Open in 2016, the K Club also hosted the European Open in 1995, 2003 and 2005

Additionally, the K Club was the host of the 2006 Ryder Cup.

Between the 2006 Ryder Cup and the 2016 playing of the Irish Open, the biggest difference of the course was a decade’s worth of tree growth. We’ll see another seven years worth of growth from 2016 to this year’s edition.

The tree growth will add to the importance of driving accuracy, on top of water being in play on 15 holes this week.

The water serves as the course’s largest line of defense as the River Liffey snakes its way throughout the property.

Off the tee, golfers will be greeted by gentle elevation changes and a multitude of holes that dogleg in each direction. To add to the importance of driving accuracy off the tee with the trees and water, many of the fairways this week play tight with thick rough coming into play as well.

Greens in regulation percentage has been the key statistic to success here. Finding the greens leads to the replicated success.

Some of the greens this week are small as others are rather large and sometimes, very large. Many of these greens are multi-tiered and crowned, protected by large and intimidating bunkers. Some of these bunkers in play this week are dangerously deep.

The green complexes also feature shaved run-off areas, making even the large greens hard to find in regulation.

The putting surfaces are also challenging as they are undulating and slick.

There are four par-fives features this week that any hopeful winner will have to take advantage of. Three of these par-fives come on the back nine with two in the final three holes.

None of the par-fours this week are monstrous with eight of them coming in at under 450 yards and six at 430 yards or less.

As for the par-threes, three-of-four play under 185 yards.

The average winning score here at the K Club has been -12.2. With the constant threat of water making this track a true risk-reward course, this venue has a way in keeping scoring in check

The Weather

It wouldn’t be Irish golf without the risk of precipitation this week. As of the time of writing this, there is a 50-percent chance of precipitation on Saturday and a 60-percent chance on Sunday. However, Thursday and Friday feature just a 20-percent chance. Temperatures will remain in the high-to-mid 70-degrees across all four days. Winds will be at the highest at nine miles-per-hour on Thursday.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Scrambling

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

Betting Card

Shane Lowry (+2000)

I usually don’t do this. I’m a very big stats based golf bettor. On the PGA side this past season, relying on stats and in turn, my model, has given me 17 outright winners. But, for whatever reason this is, I’m going with my gut here and playing two units on Shane Lowry. Nothing about how Lowry is playing right now excites me. Heck, the last time we saw Lowry was at the D+D Czech Masters on the DP World Tour where he missed the cut. I also alluded to it earlier where he missed the 70-man FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour this season as well. So, after all of this, why am I still playing him this week? Lowry has made Donald’s Ryder Cup team as a wild card selection. To make that selection pay off for Donald, the former Open Champion in Lowry will need to turn it on quickly. And that would start this week on his home soil in his nation’s championship. Lowry is still a world class ball striker who too is elite off the tee when it comes to total driving. If the Ryder Cup motivation along with playing on home soil lights him up this week, he very well could win this.

Alexander Bjork (+3000)

I should be moving on from Bjork but, I simply cannot. He’s a statistical darling and therefore pops in my DP World Tour model each and every week. However, it’s not like he’s popping in my model and then not performing. He’s one of the most consistent guys on all of the DP World Tour. He’s fresh off a second place finish at least week’s Omega European Masters. If we take a look back to the DS Automobiles Italian Open in May, Bjork put together a run of events where he placed top ten in seven of 11 events and top five in four of them. Bjork is currently first on Tour in SG: APP and scrambling, third in driving accuracy, fifth in SG: PUTT, seventh in GIR%, 13th in par five average scoring and 16th in SG: ATG. His one downfall is a 113th placement in SG: OTT but he is elite in terms of driving accuracy so I’m not too concerned there. I suppose I’ll be riding Bjork until he wins. Two units at +3000 is what’s on my betting card when it comes to Bjork.

Yannik Paul (+5500)

I love the value Paul offers this week at +5500. This is what we get on the DP World Tour when the likes of McIlroy and company come to town. Paul is currently second on Tour in SG: APP, 11th in GR%, 12th in scrambling, 41st in SG: ATG, 43rd in par five average scoring, 48th in SG: PUTT, 63rd in driving accuracy and 66th in SG: OTT. In his last two outings, Paul has gone tenth at the D+D Real Czech Masters and T20th at last week’s Omega European Masters. It also wasn’t that long ago where he went T3rd at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed and T8th at the Betfred British Masters in consecutive outings. I’m playing a unit on Paul this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen (+6000)

I talked about the value I enjoyed on Olesen a week ago at +4500 so you best believe I’m enjoying him on the betting card at +6000. Now, he didn’t show up last week, placing T40th at the Omega European Masters, but did place T11th at the D+D Real Czech Masters. Olesen is currently sixth on Tour in scrambling, eighth in SG: APP, 14th in GIR%, 15th in SG: PUTT, 32nd in par five average scoring, 35th in SG: OTT, 42nd in SG: ATG and 74th in driving accuracy. Not a bad resume for someone at +6000. I’m playing one unit on him this week.

Joost Luiten (+7000)

The last time I played Luiten, he blew a four stroke lead on the final day of the BMW International to Thriston Lawrence. Gut wrenching. Either way, whenever we get to a track that requires accuracy off the tee and elite approach play, Luiten is going to make an appearance. He is currently tenth on Tour in SG: OTT, 12th in GIR%, 15th in SG: APP, 17th in both driving accuracy and scrambling, 34th in par five average scoring and 45th in SG: PUTT. If you’ve ever seen Luiten play golf, you know his downfall comes around the green where he ranks 97th in SG: ATG on the DP World Tour. Honestly, that isn’t that bad. I would have imagined it would be closer to the bottom of the tour. Either way, Luiten is fresh off a T5th at the Omega European Masters. He also played both The Open Championship and Genesis Scottish Open where he made the cut, an achievement in its own right. Prior to that he placed T8th at the Betfred British Masters. I’ll be playing a unit on Luiten this week.

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