It will hardly register as a shock if the clear favourite wins, but at 7/1, McIlroy rates terrible value. Remember, for all his amazing potential, Rory has only won twice to date and struggled for consistency in 2010. Of particular concern this week is the fact that his scoring in windy conditions has, so far, been disappointing.
This rare European outing could be critical for Justin’s hopes of making the Ryder Cup side. His phenomenal recent record in the US; two wins, one near-miss from his last three PGA Tour starts; warrants the utmost respect.
Bearing in mind that he was always likely to be a bit rusty on his Loch Lomond comeback, there is every reason to suspect McDowell remains in the same form that saw him win the US Open. He may never have got into contention in The Open, but did rank second for greens in regulation at St Andrews. Graeme looks a very strong candidate, although he will need to correct a strange statistic that shows he is yet to make a single top ten in Ireland.
After seeing recent picks Rose, Molinari and Pettersson win as soon as I abandoned them, a long overdue win for Fisher would be extremely frustrating. It would come as no great surprise, as he’s been playing very well just off the pace and is one of the most effective when the wind gets up. 20/1 is short enough though on the basis of his 2010 figures.
Without a win in four years, Molinari is unbackable at 20/1 even if his chance is very obvious. Nobody here is in better nick from tee to green at the moment, and consecutive top-four finishes prior to The Open served to strengthen his Ryder Cup claims. I wonder if he’ll be inspired by brother Edoardo’s breakthrough at Loch Lomond?
Another significant player in the Ryder Cup race, Davies is easily forgiven a missed cut at The Open. He has gone well in windy conditions before, but would ideally prefer it to be calm and turn into a putting contest.
If regaining the form shown at Loch Lomond, Clarke would be a big candidate for an event in which he’s twice previously made the top three. His weekend performance at St Andrews, though, showed little of the previous week’s heroics.
Rock’s recent form suggests that long overdue breakthrough title is imminent, and having finished runner-up last year, this one looks ideal. Seventh in The Open, the fourth time he’s made that mark in seven events, reads even better because he had the worst of the draw.
McGrane must rate another strong home candidate, after top 20s on eight of his last 12 starts. Few appreciate bad weather more than him.
Another bad-weather player, Gallacher remains in the form of his life. Prior to St Andrews, he’d registered four top-six finishes from six starts, and 23rd in The Open was hardly a disaster.
Following a spell where he was repeatedly in final day contention, Wood has gone off the boil in recent weeks. Nevertheless, he is proven in windy conditions, and finished a promising tenth on last year’s Irish Open debut.
The defending champion has already shown his aptitude for bad-weather golf, and warrants respect after seventh at Loch Lomond and a decent Open debut. It is hard to escape the fact, however, that his 45/1 odds hardly compare to last year’s 1000/1.
This talented, if erratic, Swede has performed well in the last two Irish Opens, finishing third and 13th. Edfors also made the top ten at Loch Lomond.
Colsaerts again took the eye as a plausible outsider over the weekend, challenging strongly before a poor finish. That was his fifth top 15 in eight starts.
It is asking a lot of this brilliant Korean prospect to crack Europe just yet, but there are encouraging signs. He was top 15 last week and at Wentworth, in addition to an excellent 40th on his US Open debut. That shows he plays difficult courses well.