The first round of the Irish Open takes place on Thursday with the picturesque Ballyliffin Golf Club in the spotlight for the first time as the stars of the European Tour play on it looking to put themselves in a good position for the rest of the week.
It is generally hard to chase on links golf courses so there will be a real emphasis on getting off to a good start so we should see some excellent golf over the course of the day especially given the level of players on show.
This is a Rolex Series event so there is lots to bet on over the course of the day. We have a first round leader market to go at and near enough every three ball going out onto the course has been priced up. With the TV coverage really good for this event we can follow our bets throughout the day too which is always good.
First Round Leader
As ever when we bet on this market we need to know what we are getting ourselves into in terms of the format of the day. As with last week the field is split into two halves, a morning and an afternoon wave so if there were to be a weather bias we could eliminate half the field. Having looked at the forecast it is pretty flat throughout the day so there appears to be no discernible advantage with the draw.
That means we have free rein to back whoever we want and I’m going to side with one of my outright bets in Matthew Southgate. Southgate opened with a 65 in this last year and a 70 the year before so we know he can go low early on. He also opened with a 65 in Oman earlier in the year. Southgate is in decent form and he’s out in the afternoon which might just be the better side of the draw to be in as the temperature will be a little higher. At 66/1 he’s worth a chance.
Thursday 3 Balls
Each of the groups onto the golf course have been priced up which gives us a chance to seek out the value. The pick of the morning wave sees Graeme McDowell, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello out onto the golf course while in the afternoon the tournament host Rory McIlroy is the headline attraction. He is out with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thorbjorn Olesen but it is two other afternoon groups which catch my eye.
Richard Bland/Andrew Dodt/Joakim Lagergren
Match tees off at 12.50 BST
One of the early afternoon groups out onto the links is the one which features Richard Bland, Andrew Dodt and Joakim Lagergren which is actually one of the more evenly priced groups on the course.
Dodt is in absolutely no form whatsoever and comes here off the back of shooting +23 for two rounds in France last week. Bland is slightly better off but not by much and his 67 to open up the BMW PGA Championship is very much the anomaly rather than the norm. That leaves Lagergren who enjoys these conditions and has already won a tournament this year. Generally when the wind blows his form is good and he looks a good thing to me here.
Thomas Aiken/Bradley Dredge/Matteo Manassero
Match tees off at 13.30 BST
A later group out in the afternoon wave of players sees Thomas Aiken, Bradley Dredge and Matteo Manassero go out onto the golf course with all three looking for a big first round to get themselves in contention.
In truth these three are all fairly even from tee to green and you wouldn’t expect too much wavering from the fairways by any of them but on the greens it is a different story. Manassero and Aiken are renowned poor putters but Dredge is seen as one of the better ones on the Tour. He began last week very strongly and a repeat of that should be more than enough here.
Back M.Southgate First Round Leader (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 67.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-5)
WON – Back J.Lagergren to beat A.Dodt & R.Bland for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with LeoVegas
DEAD HEAT – Back B.Dredge to beat T.Aiken & M.Manassero for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with 888sport