This is the start of a good run of European Tour events, with some strong fields assembled for a good stretch of weeks. Several of the big European Tour players have dashed back from Sawgrass for the event with Rory obviously taking the limelight.
This will be very different conditions to what they have played the past couple of months, and the forecast for wind and rain throughout the event certainly influences our picks. Among the favourites, probably Shane Lowry has the most appeal, but considering the change in conditions and his recent decline in form we will just leave him be, admittedly he did win in hideous conditions at Baltray in 2009, but we fear he may not be quite as used to those conditions of late.
The K Club is certainly the sort of course that should suit Rory’s game, but the extra pressure of hosting the event and also his recently poor record in the event make 4/1 look particularly miserly odds. The course has matured somewhat since the 2006 Ryder Cup, with more trees becoming established. The head greenkeeper is very happy with the condition and suggests that the rough is not very penal and should favour the bigger hitter – especially if it does get wet.
Joost Luiten 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
Luiten is having a really consistent season, having been in the mix time and again. We backed him at Valderamma where he was narrowly edged out, and we keep faith with him again. He’s got form in tough conditions and he’ll certainly relish proving his game against some of the big stars in this Ryder Cup year.
Lee Westwood 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
Westwood may not have won for a couple of years, but he showed the value of experience at Augusta with a performance that will have given him enormous confidence. It may well take a player with experience and great patience to win this week, so when you couple that with his back-to-back wins at the K Club at the turn of the century, a great performance in the 2006 Ryder Cup and a bit of confidence …… well, things may just happen!
Jamie Donaldson 66/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £845
Since his Ryder Cup heroics he’s struggled to reach the heights, but he has just popped up enough on the radar of late to be noticed. He won the Irish Open at Portrush to book his place at the last Ryder Cup, and this could be a perfect opportunity to kick-start this campaign around a course that he says he loves.
Robert Rock 80/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £1020
Bobby Rock had a pretty quiet 2015, but has started this year with real vigour, missing only one cut in Spain when he was struggling with a back injury. He really came to prominence in this event in 2009 when he just missed out to Lowry, and has since recorded another runners-up finish as well as several creditable performances in the event.
Paul Dunne 100/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £635
The Harry Potter lookalike hasn’t been all over the news in his debut season but on the sly he has been doing really well, regularly playing all 4 rounds. He proved at The Open how good he can be in tough conditions, and bearing in mind that all of his best amateur experiences are still fresh in the mind, these conditions may play into his hands in front of a boisterous home support. He’s plenty long enough too to have a bunch of opportunities to get his stunning putting stroke well-within striking distance.
Paul Lawrie 175/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £1103.75
If there is one thing we know about Paul Lawrie, it’s that he LOVES playing in waterproofs. Well, that’s pretty much all he’ll be playing in this week, so expect him to be wire-to-wire winner. Even if the klaxon sounds for foul weather, he’s unlikely to stop cos he loves it so much.