Fantasy Golf: The Irish Open

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As the Tour returns to Europe after what was a good US Open for Europeans, focus now turns to the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort. The Cork venue hasn't hosted the event since 2002, when Soren Hansen won, and so this week's fantasy picks involve more guesswork than TG normally employs!

Because the Irish Open is popular with home and European players alike, several big names grace the field the week, including defending champion Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Graeme MacDowell and Victor Dubuisson. Another big attraction will be the young Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick who will be making his pro debut just days after winning low amateur at the US Open. The course is fairly short for Tour players, measuring a 'mere' 7,043 yards which includes four Par 5's. Because of this, scoring in the past has been quite low, with 14-under winning back in 2002 and 18-under emerging victorious the year before. Expect more of the same this week.

You'll have noticed that we've only mentioned players from GB & Ireland so far, but there is a reason for this: the last seven Irish Open winners have all come from these shores. Given this great record of the home players, they're going to be the foundations of our success this week! Here's who we've gone for...

1. Paul Casey - £1.4m

Casey has been finding his feet again on Tour after finally recovering from that snowboarding injury. In his last seven events, he's placed in the top-25 five times and has only missed one cut. A decent if unspectacular T-56 at the US Open shows he's still got what it takes to defend his Irish Open crown this week.

2. Marcel Siem - £1.2m

If there is to be a winner from overseas, Marcel Siem has as good a chance as any. Coming off the back of a tie for 12th at the US Open, easily his best finish at any Major, the young German is swinging well. He hasn't missed a cut on the European Tour all year and his two best finishes have been in his last two European Tour outings (T-12th at the US Open and T-7 at Wentworth).

3. David Horsey - £0.7m

A bit of a surprise pick here. The weather is set to be good so scoring should be low and given that, the winner will have to be hot with the putter. Of the field, only Wade Ormsby has a better putting average over the past three months, and only three players have fared better on the greens in the whole of the 2014 season so far. Horsey has finished in the top-12 in five of his last nine starts and could be set to land his third European Tour title this weekend.

4. Shane Lowry - £1.2m

Finally, an Irishman! Lowry has a far superior record at his home Opens compared to McIlroy and G-Mac and could well be the leading Irishman again this week. Unlike most of the field, Lowry is pretty familiar with the course and said this week that "there's a low score out there". TG hopes that it's Lowry who goes low and can recreate his brilliance at the 2009 Irish Open, where he won as an amateur. Although he missed the cut at last week's US Open, his form before that had been very good and only McIlroy's brilliance stopped him from winning at Wentworth.

5. Richie Ramsey - £1.1m

The Scot should enjoy this course and we know he loves Irish Opens, registering finishes of 9th and 16th in two of his last three Irish Open appearances. In his last seven European starts, Richie has produced a runners-up and a fifth-place finish. He hasn't won since 2012, but that could all change this week.

6. Rory McIlroy - £5.5m

We've saved our big gun until last. While he might not be familiar with the course and his bags may have been lost en route to Fota Island, with a swing like his, none of the above matters. With the weather set to be good, Rory can pretend he's over in the USA and fire himself to victory at his home Open. He's only played this side of the pond six times this season, but he's made every cut and hasn't finished lower than 25th, with two top-10 finishes and a win at Wentworth after that brilliant final round. This could be his year to win his home open that has eluded him so far.

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