The European Tour travels from Germany to Ireland for a three-event Ireland/Scotland swing culminating with the 149th Open Championship at Royal St Georges.
The first stop on the swing is the 66th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, contested this year at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet Hotel & Golf Course in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
The long-running national open tournament will be headlined by Irish major winners Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, and Graeme McDowell.
The home favorites will be joined by the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, Robert MacIntyre, and Thomas Pieters, among others.
Here are more details about this week’s DDF Irish Open.
2021 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
Tournament: DDF Irish Open
Tour Debut: 1975
Dates: July 1-4, 2021
Where: Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Course: Mount Juliet Golf & Spa Hotel
Distance: Par 71, 7250 yards
Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1991)
Format: Stroke Play
Winning Share: €480,000
Defending Champion: Jon Catlin
How to Follow the Irish Open
GOLF CHANNEL: Thu: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.; Fri-Sun: 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Irish Open History
The Irish Open debuted in 1927 at Portmarnock Golf Club with Scotland’s George Duncan edging the legendary English golfer Henry Cotton by a stroke to take home the inaugural trophy and a $100 cash prize.
Ireland’s national golf open was played for the next 13 years up until 1939, where it paused for six years during the big world war. It returned in 1946, once again contested at Portmarnock, with Northern Ireland’s Fred Daly taking home the ’46 title. After the war, the tournament had lost its luster, and was played just five more times until 1953.
Following a 20-year hiatus, the tournament was re-launched in 1975 as Carroll’s Irish Open and became a staple on the then fledgling European PGA Tour.
Carroll’s – Ireland’s oldest tobacco company, was the original title sponsor, and owned the marquee through 1993 until cigarettes became heavily regulated, especially related to advertising.
Murphy’s Irish Stout sponsored the next nine editions (Murphy’s Irish Open, 1994-2002), but since 2003 the title has changed several times with Dubai Duty Free the current title holder.
Despite its recent shaky sponsor history, the Irish Open has always been one of the more prestigious events on the European Tour’s schedule, regularly drawing some of the biggest crowds.
In 2017 it began a run of three years as part of the Rolex Series.
Legendary golfers to win Ireland’s national open include Bobby Locke, Christy O’Connor Jr., Ben Crenshaw, Hubert Green, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm.
Ballesteros, Langer and Faldo own the most Irish Open titles with three.
History: Tournament Names
- Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (2019-21)
- Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation (2015-18)
- The Irish Open (2012-14)
- Irish Open presented by Discover Ireland (2011)
- The 3 Irish Open (2009-10)
- Irish Open (2007-08)
- Nissan Irish Open (2003-06)
- Murphy’s Irish Open (1994-02)
- Carroll’s Irish Open (1975-93)
- No Tournament (1954-74)
- Irish Open (1927-53)
History: Recent Winners
2020: John Catlin (-10)
2019: Jon Rahm (-16)
2018: Russell Knox (-20)
2017: Jon Rahm (-24)
2016: Rory McIlroy (-12)
2015: Soren Kjeldsen (-2)
2014: Mikko Ilonen (-13)
2013: Paul Casey (-14)
3 – Seve Ballesteros (1983, 1985, 1986)
3 – Nick Faldo (1991, 1992, 1993)
3 – Bernhard Langer (1984, 1987, 1994)
264 (-24) – Jon Rahm (2017)
Irish Open Field
The field in County Kilkenny, is headlined by four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who is the field’s highest ranked player at No. 10.
McIlroy enters in decent form with a win and top-10 in his four most recent starts. The 32-year old winner of the 2016 Irish Open is the clear odds-on favorite at 5-1.
At 12-1, reigning Open Champion Shane Lowry (No. 43) is the second ranked favorite by the bookmakers. The Irishman is also in pretty good form, having posted a T6 (Memorial) and T4 (PGA) in his last three starts.
World No. 33 Tommy Fleetwood has struggled for much of the year – posting just three top 10s, but is still one of the marquee names in the game. The Englishman is offered at 16-1, just ahead of Christiaan Bezuidenhout (No. 47) who’s rated 18-1 by the books. The South African enters off seven straight paydays, but with a high finish of T30.
Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer is offered at 20-1 and enters off a solo second (BMW International Open). The German has been a hit or miss with a solo second (BMW Intl Open) and solo third (Austrian Open) bookending a run of MC-MC-MC-T26.
Another player to watch is Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, who has cooled off some but is still posting in the money on a regular basis. The world No. 51 has two top 10 finishes in his last seven attempts.
Fan favorite Eddie Pepperell missed the cut last week in Germany but has quietly posted two top-12s in his last four starts. Just two years ago (2019), the Englishman was ranked No. 32 in the world, but has fallen all the way to No. 241 due to a mix of injuries and poor form. He may be ready for a bounceback in Ireland.
Defending champion John Catlin won the Austrian Open, and then chased it with a solo fifth in Spain which got him noticed and a spot in the U.S. PGA Championship field as well as the Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour. He missed the cut in both U.S. events, then returned to the European Tour last week and missed the cut in Germany.
Finally, don’t look past Graeme McDowell, who enters off eight missed cuts in his last 11 starts but posted a T4 in Corales. As a home favorite, McDowell could be a sleepy top 10 pick.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Rory McIlroy (5-1)
2. Shane Lowry (12-1)
3. Tommy Fleetwood (16-1)
4. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (18-1)
5. Martin Kaymer (20-1)
Full Field and Odds
Mount Juliet Golf & Spa Hotel . Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland . July 1-4, 2021
The European Tour heads to North Berwick, Scotland for the abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, the elite Rolex Series event leading into the season’s final major: the 149th Open at Royal St Georges.
Credits: Carey Hoffman, European Tour Media, Getty Images