Irish Open contenders: The golfers to keep an eye on at Galgorm

Simon Lewis assesses the favourites, the home hopes, and the potential gatecrashers in contention for the 2020 Irish Open at Galgorm
Irish Open contenders: The golfers to keep an eye on at Galgorm

Shane Lowry is interviewed while holding the Claret Jug prior to his practice round ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Ballymena, Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

THE FAVOURITES 

Shane Lowry (IRL) - 7/1 fav 

Age: 33 

WR: 30 

Irish Opens Played: 11 

Best Finish: Win 2009 Baltray (when amateur) 

Last Year (Lahinch): T34 

Best Since Restart: T6 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 

The Open champion has his best chance yet of regaining the title he won 11 years ago if he can recover well from his trek home from the US Open and acclimatise quickly to a course he has never played.

George Coetzee (RSA) - 11/1 

Age: 34 

WR: 81 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: T34 2019 Lahinch 

Best Since Restart: Win Portugal Masters 13/09 

Five-time European Tour winner, most recently two weeks ago in Vilamoura and followed by a T3 at the Portugal Open - his ninth worldwide top 10 of 2020. Yet last year’s Lahinch finish was the first time he made an Irish Open cut.

Wilco Nienaber (RSA) - 11/1 

Age: 20 

WR: 270 

Irish Opens Played: Debut 

Best Since Restart: 4th English Championship 09/08 

Big-hitting young gun in excellent form with T6 at Valderrama in the Andalucia Masters on September 6 and T14 last time out at Portugal Masters.

Ryan Fox (NZ) 22/1 

Age: 33 

WR: 173 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: 2nd - 2018 Ballyliffin 

Last Year (Lahinch): MC 

Best Since Restart: T8 British Masters 25/07 

Has won at Galgorm, the 2016 NI Open on the Challenge Tour, sealed with a since-matched course-record final-round 62 and loves the Irish Open with two top-five finishes.

HOME HOPES 

Padraig Harrington - 66/1 

Age: 49 

WR: 436 

Irish Opens Played: 24 

Best Finish: Win - 2007 Adare Manor 

Last Year (Lahinch): T50 

Best Since Restart: First since February 

Makes his 25th appearance in a tournament he won 13 years ago and has seven top-10 finishes, including three times as runner-up.

Cormac Sharvin - 80/1 

Age: 28 

WR: 335 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: T15 - 2019 Lahinch 

Best Since Restart: T19 English Championship 09/08  

Picked up his biggest cheque at Lahinch last year and has good form around Galgorm with two T9s at the NI Open in 2017 and 18, when he shot a second-round 65.

Jonathan Caldwell - 150/1 

Age: 36 

WR: 530 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: MC - 2009 Baltray 

Last Year (Lahinch): DNP 

Best Since Restart: T8 British Masters 25/07 

Has shown patches of great form since the restart including an opening 65 in his last start at the Portugal Masters. Shot a 65 at Galgorm in 2014 NI Open. 

Paul Dunne - 250/1 

Age: 27 

WR: 604 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: T40 - 2018 Ballyliffin 

Last Year (Lahinch): MC 

Best Since Restart: T38 British Masters 25/07 

His 61 to win the British Masters was three years ago now and Dunne is yet to make an impression in this tournament.

GATECRASHERS?

Jason Scrivener (Aus) 25/1 

Age: 31 

WR: 179 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: MC - three times 

Last Year (Lahinch): MC 

Best Since Restart: T8 Portugal Masters 13/09 & Wales Open 23/08 

Yet to make the weekend on Irish Open links courses but has solid recent form. 

Connor Syme (Sco) 25/1 

Age: 25 

WR: 206 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: MC - 2018 Ballyliffin 

Last Year (Lahinch): DNP 

Best Since Restart: T3 Celtic Classic 16/08 

Four top-10 finishes on the recent UK Swing earned the Scot a US Open debut last week.

Laurie Canter (Eng) 28/1 

Age: 30 

WR: 227 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: MC - 2018 Ballyliffin 

Last Year (Lahinch): DNP 

Best Since Restart: 2nd Portugal Masters 13/09 

Two top-five European Tour finishes at a T13 in last three starts including his runner-up finish in Portugal.

Garrick Higgo (RSA) 28/1 

Age: 21 

WR: 122 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Since Restart: Win Portugal Open 20/09 

Last Sunday’s European Tour winner, seven days after a T7 at Galgorm in the NI Open, when he shot rounds of 67-65 on the weekend.

KEEP AN EYE ON 

Lucas Herbert (Aus) 28/1 

Age: 24 

WR: 79 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: T55 - 2019 Lahinch 

Best Since Restart: T31 US Open 20/09 

Dubai Desert Classic winner in February who closed with a 65 at Lahinch on his Irish Open debut last year.

Justin Harding (RSA) 30/1 

Age: 34 

WR: 120 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Finish: MC - 2019 Lahinch 

Best Since Restart: 3rd British Masters 25/07 

UK Swing form earned a US Open berth, his T3 at Andalucia Masters earlier this month following on from third outright at the British Masters.

Tyler Koivisto (USA) 150/1 

Age: 27 

WR: 493 

Irish Opens Played:

Best Since Restart: MC Portugal Open 20/09 

The former schoolteacher from Minnesota won at Galgorm on September 6, his third round matching Ryan Fox’s 62 from four years earlier to take the NI Open and tee up his European Tour debut last week.

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open tee-times

Tee-off times in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Co Antrim (Gbr unless stated):

(a) denotes amateurs

Starting at hole 1

0740 Max Schmitt (Ger), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Graeme Storm

0750 Ewan Ferguson, Martin Simonsen (Den), Niklas Lemke (Swe)

0800 Mathieu Fenasse (Fra), Ross McGowan, Romain Wattel (Fra)

0810 Ashun Wu (Chn), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Edoardo Molinari (Ita)

0820 Joachim B. Hansen (Den), David Law, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)

0830 Adrian Meronk (Pol), Damien Perrier (Fra), Rikard Karlberg (Swe)

0840 Andrea Pavan (Ita), Adri Arnaus (Spa), Michael Campbell (Nzl)

0850 Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Daan Huizing (Ned), Clement Sordet (Fra)

0905 Jack Senior, Tyler Koivisto (USA), Calum Hill

0915 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Ryan Fox (Nzl)

0925 Shane Lowry (Irl), George Coetzee (Rsa), Lucas Herbert (Aus)

0935 (a) James Sugrue (Irl), Laurie Canter, Soren Kjeldsen (Den)

0945 Jordan Smith, Richard McEvoy, Callum Shinkwin

0955 Liam Johnston, Toby Tree, Dave Coupland

1005 Matthew Baldwin, Damien McGrane (Irl), Steven Tiley

1015 Johannes Veerman (USA), Darius Van Driel (Ned), Jbe Kruger (Rsa)

1030 Julien Guerrier (Fra), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Richard Bland

1040 Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Benjamin Poke (Den), Jake McLeod (Aus)

1050 Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl), Lee Slattery

1100 Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Wil Besseling (Ned), Oscar Lengden (Swe)

1110 Steven Brown, Ashley Chesters, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

1120 David Horsey, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn)

1130 Marcus Armitage, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Spa), Lars Van Meijel (Ned)

1140 Antoine Rozner (Fra), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Matthew Southgate

1200 Haydn Porteous (Rsa), David Drysdale, Oliver Farr

1210 Aaron Cockerill (Can), Garrick Porteous, Colm Moriarty (Irl)

1220 Sean Crocker (USA), Ben Stow, Gavin Moynihan (Irl)

1230 Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), (a) Tom McKibbon (NIrl), Scott Hend (Aus)

1240 Cormac Sharvin (NIrl), Paul Dunne (Irl), Marc Warren

1250 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Joost Luiten (Ned)

1300 Padraig Harrington (Irl), John Catlin (USA), Justin Harding (Rsa)

1310 Joel Stalter (Fra), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Min Woo Lee (Aus)

1325 Connor Syme, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Richie Ramsay

1335 Nacho Elvira (Spa), Julian Suri (USA), Stephen Gallacher

1345 Oliver Fisher, Jeff Winther (Den), James Morrison

1355 Aaron Rai, Robin Roussel (Fra), David Howell

1405 Robert Rock, Francesco Laporta (Ita), Scott Jamieson

1415 Dale Whitnell, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), Zach Murray (Aus)

1425 Mark Power (Irl), Daniel Young, Alejandro Canizares (Spa)

1435 Craig Howie, Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), Carlos Pigem (Spa)

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