Best bets for the DP World Tour Horizon Irish Open

September 5, 2023 03:37 PM

Horizon Irish Open

Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg, 23, carded birdies on holes 14-17 to win his first professional event at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland by two strokes over one of our tips, Alexander Bjork. Aberg, a pre-tournament price of 18-1, shot a Sunday 64 to post 19 under and not only earned his first professional win with his late flurry but also earned a captain's pick from Luke Donald for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup later this month.

Overnight leader Matt Fitzpatrick, who was bidding to join Seve Ballesteros as a three-time winner of the event, bogeyed three of the last four holes to slip into a tie for third with Scotland’s Connor Syme at 16 under.

Rounding out the top 5 were Alex Fitzpatrick, another one of our tips at 55-1, Joost Luiten and Nicolai Hojgaard, who also earned a captain's pick and will join Matt Fitzpatrick and Aberg on the European Ryder Cup team.

This week, the DP World Tour heads to Ireland for the Horizon Irish Open and the field has a couple of other European Ryder Cup team members headlining this week at The K Club. Rory McIlroy (7-2) won the Irish Open the last time it was played at The K Club in 2016. Tyrrell Hatton (10-1) finished fifth in that Irish Open in 2016, which was hosted by Rory's charitable foundation. Shane Lowry (20-1) joins McIlroy and Hatton on the Ryder Cup team but has not won his national open since 2009 when he did so as an amateur.

Also priced at 20-1 are Adam Scott and Min Woo Lee, who come off short layoffs having not played in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Arguably the biggest snub from Team Europe was Poland's Adrian Meronk (25-1), who won the Italian Open (cashing a 20-1 ticket for us) at Marco Simone, this year's Ryder Cup venue, in May and is also the defending Irish Open champion.

Bjork has been the proverbial bridesmaid this year on the DP World Tour with two runner-up finishes and six other top-10 finishes. He is priced at 30-1 along with Billy Horschel and Aaron Rai.

The Event

The Irish Open's history dates to 1927 and rotates yearly to courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Biopharmaceutical company Horizon Therapeutics holds its legal headquarters in Dublin as a tax haven but has its operational headquarters in Chicago. The company signed a six-year title sponsorship agreement for this event in February 2022. Past winners of the event include Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo and a host of other European champions.

The Course

The K Club, specifically the Palmer North Course, will host the Irish Open for the first time since 2016. It also hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup where Team Europe, captained by Ian Woosnam, smashed the American team, captained by Tom Lehman, 18.5-9.5.

The track is a 7,350-yard par-72 located in Straffan, County Kildare, a few miles west of Dublin and is a parkland course designed by Arnold Palmer that opened in 1991.

Carved originally from 550 acres of beautiful Irish countryside, the layout is a strong course for driving with water lurking on most holes, undulating fairways and long Poa-Annua greens. The course played tough in 2016 with eventual winner McIlroy the only player to reach double digits under par, and only four holes on the course played under their par for the four days combined — three of which were par-5s.

Water is the most prominent feature on the course, with the River Liffey snaking throughout the property and helping bring water into play on 14 holes. This played a sizable part in the challenging scoring here at previous events.

Recent History/Winners

2022: Adrian Meronk (-20/268); Mount Juliet; 22-1

2021: Lucas Herbert (-19/269); Mount Juliet; 33-1

2020: John Catlin (-10/270); Galgorm Castle; 40-1

2019: Jon Rahm (-16/264); Lahinch;  8-1

2018: Russell Knox (-14/274); Ballyliffin; 28-1*

2017: Jon Rahm (-24/264); Portstewart; 14-1

2016: Rory McIlroy (-12/276); The K Club; 4-1

2015: Soren Kjeldsen (-2/282); Royal County Down 150-1**

2014: Mikko Ilonen (-13/271); Fota Island; 80-1

2013: Paul Casey (14/274); Carton House; 50-1

2012: Jamie Donaldson (-18/270); Royal Portrush; 66-1

2011: Simon Dyson (-15/269); Killarney; 25-1

2010: Ross Fisher (-18/266); Killarney; 20-1

Playoff win over Ryan Fox - *

Playoff win over Eddie Pepperell & Bernd Wiesberger - **

Trends and Angles

​— 10 of the last 11 Irish Open champions had at least one top-10 within seven lead-up events coming in, with Lucas Herbert being the lone exception in 2021.

—Before Herbert's victory in 2021, the previous three Irish Open winners (Catlin, Rahm and Knox) had a win or a second in one of their previous two starts.

—Both Els (2004) and Woods (2002) rated first in their fields for Scrambling when they won their WGC events here.

— McIlroy led the field for Greens In Regulation in his 2016 victory here.


Adrian Meronk (28-1, BetMGM)

Many, including me, thought Meronk was going to be on Team Europe for the upcoming Ryder Cup, but he was not one of Luke Donald's captain picks.

He leads the DP World Tour for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green. Plus, he ranks second for Greens In Regulation.

Granted, it is difficult to not bet McIlroy in an event and on a course in which he has won previously, but Meronk should be plenty motivated this week and does have three victories in the last 14 months.

Alexander Bjork (33-1, Boyd Sports)

This could be the FOMO (Fear of missing out) play, but Bjork has been consistent and so close to getting his second DPWT victory (last one in 2018).

He leads the DPWT for Strokes Gained: Approach and Scrambling.

Furthermore, he ranks third for Driving Accuracy, fifth for Strokes Gained: Putting and seventh for Greens In Regulation.

Matt Wallace (55-1, Boyd Sports)

He was an unlucky runner-up two weeks ago at the Czech Masters to long shot Todd Clements and followed up with a 24th last week in Switzerland.

Over the last two starts, he has been rated fourth and sixth for Total Driving.

The form is starting to come back from an erratic run after earning his first PGA Tour victory at the Corales Puntacana Championship.

Joost Luiten (66-1, BetMGM)

Luiten's top 5 in Switzerland last week adds to a run of three straight finishes of eightth or better in DPWT-only events.

He ranks top 10 on the DPWT for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

Eddie Pepperell (80-1, BetMGM)

Over the past month, Pepperell was third in Northern Ireland and eighth last weekend in the Swiss Alps.

He was defeated by Soren Kjeldsen in the 2015 Irish Open playoff at Royal County Down for his best finish in the event but was also eighth here at The K Club in 2016.

Pepperell has ranked eighth, fourth and fifth over his last three starts for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

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