THE IRISH Open welcomes a number of big hitters this week at Mount Juliet.
With the British Open just weeks away the PGA Tour stars have headed over.
Rory McIlroy headlines along with Open champion Shane Lowry.
But there is also Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in action.
And our man David Facey has made his three picks.
Tips for Irish Open
Hot shot: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, 18-1
The highly-rated South African proved a model of consistency after deciding to base himself in the States for the past four months, making the cut in all eight stroke play tournaments.
The highlight was a share of seventh in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he was on course for another top ten in the US Open, before a closing 76 dropped him into a tie for 13th.
He looked to be pressing too hard there – not a good idea at Torrey Pines – and he will not find Mount Juliet anywhere near as unforgiving.
Bezuidenhout has won three times on home soil since his eye-catching victory at the 2019 Andalucia Masters, and looks poised for a strong finish to the year.
Mid price: Justin Harding, 50-1
Yes, I realise this is the Irish Open and not the South African Open, but Harding is another Springbok worth having on your side.
When that long putter behaves he makes plenty of birdies, as he showed when he won the Magical Kenya Open earlier this year with rounds of 66-67-64-66.
That was obviously against a much weaker field, but Harding looked to be back in the groove with four more sub-70 rounds earning him a share of fifth in last week’s BMW International.
Harding broke into the world’s top fifty a couple of years ago when he followed up four wins on the mini-tours in 2018 with victory at the 2019 Qatar Masters.
His form dipped after that, but he could be on the way up again.
Long shot: Jorge Campillo, 100-1.
Really? 100-1 for a player who was in the final group with Viktor Hovland in Munich last week, and finished a close third?
It seems too good to pass up, and it is not as if that encouraging performance at the BMW International came completely out of the blue.
The Spaniard could barely hit his hat at the start of the year, missing cuts almost every week – but his last three efforts read 40-25-3.
He is trending in the right direction, and victories in Qatar and Morocco show he knows how to get over the finishing line. Finished fourth in the 2018 Irish Open, so he clearly likes ‘the craic’ over there!
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