All eyes on Northern Ireland's Open trio

Published 08/07/2011 20:11:03

Much has been made in the media of Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy. The Ulsterman, who turned professional in 2007, has won the US Open, Dubai Desert Classic, and Quail Hollow Championship, despite being just 22-years-old. He has four top-ten finishes in the Majors; won the Ryder Cup with Europe in 2010, and is expected to 'bridge the gap' between Northern Ireland and the Republic by carrying the Olympic flame across the border in 2012.

The youngster has been afforded almost as many column inches as Pippa Middleton over the past few weeks; so much so, that it would be easy to forget that Northern Ireland will field two other players in this year's British Open, namely, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke. Those looking at the Open 2011 golf odds will know both players have every chance of winning.

McDowell, who is arguably, closer to McIlroy in terms of ability than his Irish comrade, Clarke, is known for his excellent putting skill, which will give him an immediate advantage over the links-shy,

Mickelson. McDowell won the US Open in 2010, and outplayed Tiger Woods to win last year's Chevron World Challenge. However, the Irishman has enjoyed only meagre success this year, finishing 14th in the latest instalment of the US Open. McDowell's shot at the Claret Jug will require a return to the form he demonstrated in 2010, but in the face of competition from McIlroy, Westwood, and Donovan, the 31-year-old will need to play a truly special game next week. The Betfair golf bettin reflects this.

Darren Clarke, like Colin Montgomerie, is a veteran of the game, but he has never won a Major trophy; in fact, Clarke's performance in the Majors has been average over the past decade. He achieved a third place finish at the British Open in 2001, and a respectable 11th in 2004. Clarke has foundered in the doldrums ever since, placing 44th in 2010. His best ever performance in the Open was way back in 1997, when the Dungannon golfer tied for second place at the Royal Troon Golf Club.

As Northern Irish players, the three golfers, McDowell, Clarke, and McIlroy, all have one thing in common: experience on links courses, like Royal St. George's.


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