Irish Open 2023: Meronk to prove Donald wrong
By Bryan Nicholson
5 September 2023
A star attraction brings in the big names and the K Club in Straffan, Co. Kildare is certainly that. A pristine parklands course and former Ryder Cup venue (2006) will be the highlight of the week as several of the European elite ascend upon the immaculate terrain ahead of the end of this month’s showdown at Marco Simone GC.
The K Club – scene of Rory McIlroy’s Irish Open success in 2016 – will play host to the Horizon Irish Open in 2023, 2025 and 2027. Many will remember the wonderful 5-wood Rory hit to within a few feet to sew up his first and only win at the Irish Open. It was named the official European Tour shot of the year.
"It's right up there. I'm not sure I have ever hit a shot like that from that distance, to basically seal a golf tournament. That's a shot that I'll remember for a long time”
Rory will be contending with some big names at the top of the market, and he comes in as the betting favourite around 4.50, the same starting price as 2016. Home hopeful Shane Lowry (24.0) will be looking for a strong warm up and hoping to build confidence ahead of the Ryder Cup after being picked by captain Luke Donald. Tyrell Hatton (11.5) will also tee it up.
Hatton was fifth here in 2016 and Lowry recorded a top 25 finish on the Palmer North Course that year. Tom Hoge and Billy Horschel make the trip over from the US, while we’ll see Aussie stars of the past and present in Adam Scott and Min Woo Lee as well.
The K club (Palmer North course) plays around 7,350 yards to a par 72. It’s a fine parkland track where an all-around game will be needed, especially ball striking from tee to green. One of the, “top parkland courses'' in Ireland - a direct contrast from the "inland links" Palmer South course (Smurfit) course across the river Liffey - the track is fully tree lined with fairways of an average width, and rough that will be tricky but not too penal. The Palmer North course incorporates a lot of slightly raised but not overly undulating surfaces that are prepped to run smooth at around 11.5 on the stimp. Plenty of birdies and par breakers will be seen throughout the week.
Min Woo Lee (21.0 or 3.05) and compatriot Adam Scott (23.0 or 3.35) look a cut above most players in this field and won’t have the distraction of the Ryder Cup on the horizon. Both specialise from tee to green and look competitively priced at the head of the market.
Scott is 45th in strokes gained tee to green on the PGA Tour this year while Min Woo is 22nd in strokes gained total after making the switch from the European Tour. Both players have had a myriad of top 10s this season with a seventh-placed finish for Scott at his last outing at the Wyndham. While Min Woo has finished fifth at the US Open and sixth at the Players Championship showing the rising stock of the new Aussie kid on the block. Lee finished top 20 at the Irish Open in 2021.
The K club looks a great course for Adrian Meronk (29.0 or 3.75) to attempt to defend his Irish Open title and Adrian will be peeved he didn’t get the call up for the Ryder Cup from Captain Luke Donald. Meronk won on the Marco Simone track earlier in the season, taking down the Italian Open. A man on a mission this week is rounding back into form with a 13th finish in Switzerland off the back of a top 25 at the Open. Meronk was 15th in tee to green performance in Cran and ranked eighth in greens in regulation.
If we’re looking for a home hope this week, we should look no further than Tom McKibbin (110 or 7.80). The Northern Irishman rounded out with a 62 in Cran gaining one stroke per round from tee to green for the week, good enough for a 32nd placed finish. McKibbin got his maiden European Tour victory at the European Open in Germany a few months back and has been simmering again form wise over the last few weeks.
Min Woo Lee to win @ 21.00 or 3.05 to finish in the top 10
Adam Scott to win @ 23.00 or 3.35 to finish in the top 10
Adrian Meronk to win @ 29.00 or 3.75 to finish in the top 10
Tom McKibbin to win @ 110 or 7.80 to finish in the top 10