Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

The Open: The magnificent Irish seven

How Irish golfers stack up against the rest of the field at St Andrews

PADRAIG HARRINGTON (38, 13 Opens, 2 wins, 2 other top-5s, 3 missed cuts): Foul weather at St Andrews yesterday was so reminiscent of Birkdale. Harrington isn't nursing a wrist injury this time but is striking the golf ball as well as in 2007 and 2008. The signs are good - maybe even too good.

GRAEME McDOWELL (30, 6 Opens, best T11 St Andrews '05, 2 missed cuts): At the start of the year, McDowell (right) probably would have ticked off St Andrews as his best chance of victory at the Majors. Yet his stunning US Open victory at Pebble Beach surely drained the Portrush hero's batteries.

RORY McILROY (21, 2 Opens, best T42, Amateur Medal, Carnoustie '07): Missed cuts at the Masters and US Open contrast starkly with McIlroy's brilliant victory at Quail Hollow.

He's never shot higher than 69 at St Andrews and, at his best, could hack up. Yet the mantle of second-favourite to Tiger is absurd.

DARREN CLARKE (41, 18 Opens, best T2 Troon '97, 2 other top-10s, 4 missed cuts): Victory in the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor gave Clarke the spark of confidence he'd lacked.

Having qualified for St Andrews with last Sunday's second place at Loch Lomond, he's certainly upbeat and represents good value each-way at 80/1.

SHANE LOWRY (22, makes his Open debut at St Andrews): Never say never when it comes to the Clara hero, judging by his sensational win as an amateur at last year's Irish Open. Yet the Old Course in high summer is not Baltray. Putting well once again, Lowry still can make the cut as he finds his feet at the Majors.

GARETH MAYBIN (29, makes his Open debut at St Andrews): Maybin played all four rounds in his first Major at Pebble Beach last month, as one might expect of this intensely focused Ballyclare man. No stranger to the course having played there in the Dunhill Links and has a solid game that is getting better all the time.

COLM MORIARTY (31, makes his Open debut at St Andrews):

Nearly seven years of hard graft as a professional since the 2003 Walker Cup have yielded one Challenge Tour and one EuroPro Tour victory for Athlone man Moriarty (left). Making it through local final qualifying to the Open could be the break he needs.

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