Preview: Horizon Irish Open

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It looks like a lost opportunity to attract at least a few top players looking for “representatives” in this style of golf before challenging the game’s oldest major, although in truth it’s the fans who lose. most.

That said, a decent course and an Aussie being the defending champion will make for some interesting golf on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet course that will do enough to test the waters.

It is the second consecutive year that the course has hosted the tournament, although it is no stranger to high-profile golf with three previous Irish Opens in the 1990s and two WGC events in the early 2000s.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Lucas Herbert claimed his second European Tour title with a three-stroke win here last year. “It’s kind of fulfilling,” he said afterwards. “I think I was probably at one of my lowest points in my life two years ago when I played Lahinch at the Irish Open. I feel like I’ve beaten my full and to come back and win the event is quite satisfying.”

RIGHT: Lucas Herbert won his second European Tour title at this event and course in 2021. PHOTO: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images.

After a top-down front nine on Sunday, Herbert crossed the back nine in three under to win despite not having his best gear.

CLASSES: With so many link courses in Ireland it can be difficult for an inside course to shine and although it gets its share of good reviews, few people recommend it. Mount Juliet as a “must play” on the Emerald Isle.

Created in 1991 by Jack Nicklaus and Ron Kirby, the course winds around an old Irish estate where water is a constant danger.

At 6,640 yards there is plenty of length for a course of this caliber, but with the water mostly out of play at this level, the score tends to be low.

Herbert won under 19 last year on an admittedly rain-softened course, while Tiger Woods’ win tally under 25 at the 2002 WGC event was one of the top five tallies only 20 cents.

The course looks more like something you might see on the PGA Tour than the aesthetic we associate with Ireland and rewards the aerial style of play preferred by the modern professional. Expect plenty of birdies throughout the week.

The most notable holes include the par-3 all-water 3rd and the par-4 13th where the second shot is played to a green protected by a stone wall.

PRIZE CASH: $6,000,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Locals will again be disappointed with Rory McIlroy’s failure to play the event despite being Open 2019 champion Shane Lowry will receive a lot of support.

It’s not a links course, but Mount Juliet is a proven tournament venue that has a knack for producing quality winners. PHOTO: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images.

He was T23 here last year after three pedestrian rounds but found something to his liking on Sunday with a 66.

That will keep him in good stead this week despite a disappointing missed cut at the US Open at Brookline in the last start.

Finalist last week Thomas Peter may be a better prospect after a superb golf in Germany.

There are few weaknesses in the Belgian’s physical game and it looks from the outside that most of his mistakes are mental and often compounded by a fierce temper.

His disposition is no different to Tyrell Hatton although the Englishman seems to have softened the edges by using self-deprecating humour, albeit with some sting.

Pieters has never been a model of consistency, but when he finds the magic it’s impressive and after last week’s heroism he can’t be counted.

Another whose ‘A’ game stands out from the crowd is Min Woo Lee whose form has been sporadic to say the least in 2022.

He has played mostly in the United States this year on sponsor invitations and in major tournaments and while there has been some good golf at some of the bigger events it has been less so from week to week. the other.

Like Lowry, he was 23rd here last year and a return to European soil could be just the tonic for Lee who will also want to step out of his sister’s shadow after her recent stunning run.

RECORD 72 HOLES: 263 (-25, Tiger Woods2002 WGC American Express)

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Ossie Pickworth (1950), Brett Rumford (2004), Lucas Herbert (2021)

AUSTRALIANS ON THE GROUND: Jason Scrivener, Lucas Herbert, Minwoo Lee, Scott Hend, Maverick Antcliff and Zach Murray.

TV HOURS*
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 10 p.m. – 3 a.m.)
2nd round: Friday (Fox Sports 503 10 p.m. – 3 a.m.)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 11 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 10 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.)
* AEST, check local guides

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