Golf Betting: Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Tips: Westwood and Sullivan can thrive on the links but Hoey is worth a punt at a huge price


This year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be the third event of the European Tour's new Rolex Series and once again there will be a prize fund of $7 million. Market leader and defending champion Rory McIlroy - 7.50 - will host. The Irishman hit two of the shots of the season at the K club down the stretch last year en route to picking up his maiden Irish Open title. His 5-wood to the par 5 18th was dispatched to within a few feet, and was duly followed by a successful Eagle putt to seal victory over Scotland's Russel Knox. In fact, this shot was officially named European Tour shot of the year. Rory donated his winnings to his charity.
 "It's right up there. I'm not sure I have ever hit a shot like that from that distance, to basically seal a golf tournament. That's a shot that I'll remember for a long time.""The Irish Open is a tournament I have grown up dreaming of winning. Coming down to watch it as a kid, playing it as amateur, and now after not a great record in the Irish Open, getting my hands on the trophy is incredible."

Other Irishmen teeing it up this week who fancy their chances include links specialists Shane Lowry - 29.00, Graeme McDowell - 41.00, and two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington. Padraig - 51.00 - has shown a mini resurgence in form of late and it wouldn't surprise me to see him have a good three weeks on the links and putting in a challenge for his second Irish Open title. Paul Dunne - 41.00 - closed with a tied best of the day - 65 (-6) - on Sunday in France. Dunne led the Open Championship as an amateur after 54 holes at St. Andrews. He knows The Strand course having carded a round of 70 at Portstewart in the 2014 Amateur Championship.

Jon Rahm continues his European adventure and has seen Portstewart before as an amateur; he carded a 75 in the Amateur Championship in 2014 there. The Spaniard trades at 15.00. Tommy Fleetwood - 15.00 - is golf's in form man right now following his win in France. The Englishman is ranked no. 15 in the world and is no stranger to links golf, having grown up nearby this year's Open venue at Royal Birkdale. In this form, Tommy is probably man to beat at Portstewart.

 

The course - Portstewart Golf Course - par 72, 7,004 yards



Rory McIlroy describes The Strand (Championship Links) course at Portstewart as one of Northern Ireland's hidden gems, and it played second fiddle to Royal Portrush as the two courses hosted the British Amateur Championship 2014, won by Bradley Neill. The sand-based beachside track is sculpted between large impressive dunes beside the coast and includes all the characteristics of your iconic links with natural fescues, and fern and gorse complimenting the large sandhills. Many of the greens are plateaued with run offs and are protected by deep pot bunkers. Some tee shots are elevated, including the par 3s and a number of fairways are doglegged with strategically placed bunkering. As usual, the challenge will come from the elements, so ball flight control and a sharp and imaginative short game will be the keys to success.

 

Irish Open Best Value Bets

No one really stands out significantly for me this week, so I'm going to go for a few 'home' based players at decent prices who have shown some form lately. First up is Lee Westwood - 41.00 or 9.00 - who eagled a hole early in his back nine in France on Sunday to get bang into contention. He tailed off towards the end when trying to force the issue and was punished. Lee has adecent links pedigree and owns four recent top 20s from his last six tournaments that included two majors and two flagship events. Ball striking is Lee's game and if it blows, he will be able to cope at Portstewart. Slower greens should help his cause.

Another along the same lines is Andy Sullivan - 41.00 or 9.00 - who owns some decent finishes on Irish and Scottish linksland. He also has a 3rd at the KLM Open under his belt and he finished 12th in last year's Open championship. Sulli could be one to watch on the three-week links rotation, culminating in this year's Open at Birkdale. The Englishman, like Westwood, was a big factor on the final day in France but he got into some water trouble early on, which derailed his challenge. Sulli, when on form, is competent in all departments of the game and usually stays. He ranked 25th in stroke average last season.

 

Best bet of the home guys this week could come in the sub markets with Gavin Moynihan - 301.0 or 61.00 - worth a glance, but it's Michael Hoey - 176.0 or 36.00 - that really gets the attention. Hoey is a Northern Irish links specialist who has the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to his name and has also won in windy Madeira and Morocco. Hoey is capable of shooting some low numbers and has come up trumps in some first round leader markets before. He's finding some form again with recent T8 and T11 finishes on the main tour and he's been simmering with a T5 - T21 and T13 on the Challenge Tour. The last of those was last weekend in Scotland at a similar test in tough conditions where he was much higher up the leaderboard into his back nine on Sunday but had a slow finish.