Horizon Irish Open Tips 2023

Course Overview. The Irish Open tends to move around a bit in terms of venue and this year the Palmer Course at the Kildare Hotel and Golf Club – K Club to you and me – will host the Irish Open for the first time since 2016, well worth bearing this in mind when reviewing the event history stats this week.

The track is a 7,350 yard par 72 located in Straffan, County Kildare a few miles west of Dublin and is a parkland course designed by Arnold Palmer that opened in 1991. The course played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup where Ian Woosnam’s team smashed the Americans 18.5-9.5 in typically Irish weather conditions.

The Palmer Course was also the venue for the European Open between 1995-2003 and again in 2005 with the K Club’s other course, the links-style Smurfit Course, hosting the event in 2004, and 2006 and 2007. The most relevant result though was the 2016 Irish Open held here and won by Rory McIlroy – you can find the final leaderboard here.

Carved originally from 550 acres of beautiful Irish Countryside, the layout is a strong course for driving with water lurking on most holes, undulating fairways and long Poa-Annua greens. The course played tough in 2016 with eventual winner McIlroy the only player to reach double-digits under par, and only 4 holes on the course played under their par for the 4 days combined – 3 of which were par 5s.

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key statistics for this week’s event that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well in this event, although as previously noted this week’s venue hosted the event in 2016 only: Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Event Winners. 2022: Adrian Meronk, 22/1; 2021: Lucas Herbert, 33/1; 2020: John Catlin, 40/1; 2019: John Rahm, 8/1; 2018: Russell Knox, 28/1; 2017: Jon Rahm, 14/1; 2016: Rory McIlroy, 4/1; 2015: Soren Kjeldsen, 150/1; 2014: Mikko Ilonen, 80/1; 2013: Paul Casey, 50/1; 2012: Jamie Donaldson, 66/1; 2011: Simon Dyson, 25/1; 2010: Ross Fisher, 20/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

A warm and sunny Thursday and Friday will give way to more showery conditions as the weekend approaches, however it will be pleasant for playing golf overall. Winds will generally light in the 5-10mph range and temperatures will reach the mid-70s Fahrenheit in the afternoons.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Looking at the last few Irish Opens gives us some idea of that kind of skill-sets that this week’s test may demand:

  • 2022: Adrian Meronk. 288 yards (39th), 44.6% fairways (70th), 82.0% greens in regulation (1st), 61.5% scrambling (50th), 1.65 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2021: Lucas Herbert. 313 yards (5th), 53.6% fairways (35th), 68.1% greens in regulation (34th), 73.9% scrambling (15th), 1.60 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2020: John Catlin. 279 yards (55th), 62.5% fairways (6th), 72.2% greens in regulation (6th), 80% scrambling (2nd), 1.78 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2019: Jon Rahm. 309 yards (4th), 60.7% fairways (3rd), 73.6% greens in regulation (17th), 52.6% scrambling (50th), 1.65 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2018: Russell Knox. 305 yards (18th), 53.3% fairways (19th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 62.5% scrambling (18th), 1.73 putts per GIR (15th).
  • 2017: Jon Rahm. 302 yards (8th), 51.8% fairways (36th), 81.9% greens in regulation (4th), 46.2% scrambling (56th), 1.61 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2016: Rory McIlroy. 293 yards (9th), 60.7% fairways (23rd), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st), 58.3% scrambling (21st), 1.87 putts per GIR (52nd).
  • 2015: Soren Kjeldsen. 280 yards (28th), 67.9% fairways (5th), 62.5% greens in regulation (18th), 66.7% scrambling (5th), 1.82 putts per GIR (19th).
  • 2014: Mikko Ilonen. 291 yards (31st), 51.9% fairways (31st), 73.6% greens in regulation (27th), 78.9% scrambling (1st), 1.66 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2013: Paul Casey. 287 yards (18th), 44.6% fairways (41st), 73.6% greens in regulation (10th), 68.4% scrambling (10th), 1.68 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2012: Jamie Donaldson. 289 yards (8th), 58.9% fairways (35th), 62.5% greens in regulation (64th), 63.0% scrambling (5th), 1.51 putts per GIR (1st).

A variety of different courses used may explain the disparity between stats in the results above and, depending on the course and conditions being played on any given year, either high GIR or a strong short game has been the winning formula in general.

Looking at 2016 in particular for Rory McIlroy’s win here at the K Club, the Northern Irishman led the field for GIR and drove & scrambled adequately which allowed him to get away with a relatively poor week on the greens. One of the runners-up, Russell Knox, was similar in that he ranked 4th for GIR, whereas the other runner-up, Bradley Dredge, excelled on and around the greens. Rory aside, length off the tee wasn’t the be-all and end-all, and overall the course presented a good all-round test that gave players of different styles a chance.

Incoming Form: There are positives to pick out of the recent form of our past 11 Irish Open champions and none arrived in what you’d class as poor form.

All 11 had recorded a top-20 finish in their previous 7 outings, with four of our last five winners – Adrian Meronk, John Catlin, Jon Rahm and Russell Knox – each having finished in the top three in one of their previous two starts.

A similar trend continues with Dyson (2011) and Fisher (2010), broken eventually by the shock win from Shane Lowry as an amateur back in 2009:

  • 2022, Adrian Meronk: 61/28/3/3/MC/6/3/MC
  • 2021, Lucas Herbert: MC/70/46/MC/MC/71/18/19
  • 2020, John Catlin: 8/43/51/6/MC/25/1/8
  • 2019, Jon Rahm: 12/6/24/9/MC/MC/3/2
  • 2018, Russell Knox: MC/MC/16/20/44/12/38/2
  • 2017, Jon Rahm: 10/27/4/72/2/MC/MC/10
  • 2016, Rory McIlroy: 20/MC/3/27/4/10/4/12
  • 2015, Soren Kjeldsen: MC/45/MC/14/MC/31/9/18
  • 2014, Mikko Ilonen: 5/33/37/MC/8/MC/38/32
  • 2013, Paul Casey: MC/16/MC/8/MC/51/45/53
  • 2012, Jamie Donaldson: 51/3/63/44/15/53/WD/22

Event Form: Despite the fact that the venue and style of course used for the Irish Open varies from year to year, it’s interesting to note that prior to Jon Rahm’s debut win in 2017, the previous 5 winners had all recorded at least one top-13 finish in the event prior to winning. Russell Knox continued that trend in 2018 before Rahm tasted victory for a second time in this event the year after.

Again the same can be said about Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher in their respective victories, with the trend once again falling down with Shane Lowry’s success at Baltray.

John Catlin’s win at Galgorm Castle in 2020, which was a new course to many of the field, was on his Irish Open debut; Lucas Herbert, on the other hand, had finished 7th in Catlin’s victory before winning at Mount Juliet in 2021. Last year’s winner Adrian Meronk also had an Irish Open top 10 to his name, so dismissing older form at other venues may be a bad move:

  • 2022, Adrian Meronk: 10/MC
  • 2021, Lucas Herbert: 55/7
  • 2020, John Catlin: Debut
  • 2019, Jon Rahm: 1/4
  • 2018, Russell Knox: 2
  • 2017, Jon Rahm: Debut
  • 2016, Rory McIlroy: MC/7/50/35/34/10/MC/MC/MC
  • 2015, Soren Kjeldsen: MC/33/MC/35/6/64/MC/45/35/30/MC/18/MC
  • 2014, Mikko Ilonen: 49/MC/WD/16/MC/MC/10/32
  • 2013, Paul Casey: MC/13/2
  • 2012, Jamie Donaldson: MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/13/21/45

The K Club’s parkland setup renders a lot of the more recent links Irish Open results as interesting fact rather than useful research, however with plenty of comparable courses and results across Great Britain and Ireland to study, there are still some good pointers out there for this week.

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