A course described as one of golf’s hidden gems hosts the Nissan Irish Open for the first time this week – and both Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke hope it will see them become the first home winner of the title since John O’Leary in 1982.
County Louth is situated four miles from the historic town of Drogheda at the mouth of the River Boyne and the setting and the challenge ought to make it easy to forget what happened at Royal Troon last week.
Harrington, Europe’s leading player in the world rankings, missed the halfway cut in the Open and that was only the third time that has happened to him in any major since 1998.
Clarke finished joint 11th, but knows it could have been much better. He was only one off the lead when he flew over the green out of bounds on the final hole of his first round.
Another player disappointed with how things turned out after a promising start was New Zealander Michael Campbell. He began with a 67 to tuck himself in right behind Paul Casey and Thomas Levet, but dropped back to 20th.
Campbell now defends the title he won at Portmarnock last year in a play-off with Thomas Bjorn and Peter Hedblom.
Meanwhile, American Ben Curtis starts life as a past Open champion rather than the reigning Open champion and other major winners in the field are Nick Faldo, Paul Lawrie, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle.
The race for a place in the European Ryder Cup team is entering the home straight with just seven events to go.
Among those hoping to climb into one of the top 10 automatic spots, with €1.9m up for grabs, are Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Dubliner Paul McGinley, the man who holed the winning putt at The Belfry two years ago.