Venue: Ballyliffin Golf Club, County Donegal
Date: July 5-8, 2018
Course stats: Par 72; 7,462 yards
Purse: $7 million (£5.3m)
Defending champion: Jon Rahm (-24)

TV times

Thursday: Sky Sports Golf, from 10.30am
Friday: Sky Sports Golf, from 10.30am
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf, from 12.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf, from 12.30pm

Irish Open preview

The Irish Open – an event that was almost on its knees seven years ago with a prize pool of a measly €1.5m – continues to go from strength to strength after Rory McIlroy stepped in to become the host three years ago, combined with its elevation to the Rolex Series last year.

Played just two weeks before The Open Championship, it’s a tournament that continues to be earmarked by the world’s best as they go in search of valuable links experience in the build up to the penultimate major of the calendar.

This time around, we’re heading to Ballyliffin in Donegal – a pure links test and one that, if the weather behaves, should yield low scores.

Irish Open betting tips

The beautiful recent weather looks set to continue and the course should play firm and fast. That doesn’t bode well for the favourite and host Rory McIlroy who, at prices of around 6/1, needs to be taken on in the betting market.

Indeed, McIlroy prefers his golf courses on the soft side where he can really use his long and accurate driving to his advantage. His win in this event two years ago came at a soft resort-style course at The K Club, and his Open win in 2014 came at an unusually green and soft Royal Liverpool.

So who should we be looking at in the betting this week? First and foremost, target players with proven links experience. Jon Rahm certainly seems up to this test having won at Portstewart last year. I don’t particularly like the Spaniard’s price to win outright this week, but he may be worth a bet in a straight match-up with McIlroy.

Matthew Southgate

Matthew Southgate (66/1, 7 places) has returned to form after finishing 5th last week – in a really strong field – off the back of two missed cuts.

In fact, one of those missed cuts came at the US Open where he shot 77-72, so that really wasn’t a bad effort in the circumstances.

But the Englishman has a fine chance of racking up his best finish of the season to date this week in an event that he’s really taken to in recent years.

Last year he finished tied for second to cash the biggest cheque of his career to date, and two years ago he finished fourth – the third best tournament finish of his career from an OWGR perspective.

Southgate has finished inside of the top-12 in both of his last Open Championships, so clearly this 29-year-old is at his most comfortable on the links.

Where does Keel think there is real value to be had in the betting market? Check out his two other picks on the next page…