Golf was first played at Fota Island as far back as the 1800's and in 1993 a new course was developed there, designed by Ryder Cup star Christy O'Connor Jr. and Peter McEvoy. The course has not only hosted the Irish Open twice in 2001 and 2002 it has also hosted the Irish Club Professional Championship, the Irish PGA Championship and three Irish Amateur Opens.
The course was upgraded to European Tour standards in 1998 by Jeff Howes golf designs, which saw the rebuilding of all 18 greens, the redevelopment of all the tees and the redesign of several holes. The course reopened for play in September 1999. The improvements to the course were rewarded when the Deerpark Course hosted the Irish Opens of 2001 & 2002, which were won by Colin Montgomerie and Soren Hansen, respectively.
My tips to win:
I did tip Paul Casey 20/1 to do well at last week’s US Open, the Englishman started very well and was two under with two holes to play but had a double bogey on his 17th (8th) and it seemed to knock the wind out of his sails. Not only is Paul the defending champion of this event, but he has been coming back into some good form since last year’s win with five Top 25 from his last seven events – four of those being Top 18 finishes. I expect Casey will want to put up a great defense this week so look for him to be in the thick of it come Sunday.
Another player in great form is Stephen Gallacher 28/1 with a win at this year’s Dubai Desert Classic and four other Top 10 finishes from his eight events on the European Tour so far this year, I can see the Scotsman picking up another win this year. Stephen missed the cut both times the event was held on this track in 2001/02, but I am sure he will be putting that right this week.
It’s been a while since we tipped Victor Dubuisson 20/1 and apart from his final round at last week’s US Open where he shot a 75 to see him tumble down the leaderboard fourteen places and out of the Top 15. But his runners-up finish at the Nordea Masters losing in a play-off, and his runners-up finish at the WGC Match-play shows the Frenchman’s new found confidence after winning his first European Tournament at the back end of last year, and I expect him to be in the thick of it again come Sunday, on his build up to the Open Championship.
My each-way tips:
Shane Lowry 28/1 – 33/1 with StanJames – missed the cut at last week’s US Open after qualifying at Walton Heath, and I am sure he will be disappointed with that after playing so well to take the runners-up spot at the BMW PGA Championship and a Top 25 at the Nordea Masters. Shane is always going to hold this event in great esteem, it propelled him to turn professional after winning the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur, which is a great feat in this day and age and he will no doubt be putting in a performance in front of his home fans.
Marcel Siem 40/1 will not only take some positive energy from his Top 12 finish at the US Open, but I am sure watching his friend and compatriot win in such style will only add to the Germans motivation to do well here this week. It’s been a quiet year for Marcel up until his Top 10 finish at the BMW PGA Championship, but I think there maybe some renewed determination in his golf this week, his talent has never been in doubt, it’s his temperament that has always been called in to question, but I think after the weekend that may just change.
My outside tip:
We tipped Fabrizio Zanotti 80/1 –100/1 with StanJames – at the Lyoness Open and won a nice bit of money on the lad from Paraguay and I don’t think he has finished yet, he followed his Top 3 finish at the Madeira Islands Open with a Top 20 with a tougher field at the BMW PGA Championship and was right in the thick of it two weeks later in Austria after two rounds. The lad from Asuncion hasn’t won on the European Tour as yet, but he seems to have found some confidence in his ability over the last couple of months and I see no reason why that wont continue this week.
As always good luck