Expert Picks: Irish Open


This week the European Tour heads to Royal County Down for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: It’s a big week for the world No. 1 as he hosts his first event but after last week’s missed cut at the BMW PGA Championship fatigue won’t be an issue at Royal County Down.

Group 2: Danny Willett: He showed flashes of how good he can be with a third-place finish at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and he’s played well in Ireland in the past with a tie for third at last year’s Irish Open.

Group 3: Peter Uihlein: After a slow start to the season he started picking up momentum with top 10 showings in April in China.

Group 4: Soren Kjeldsen: The Dane has been playing consistent golf all season, with four top-10 finishes on the European Tour this season.

Will Gray

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: If I picked him for last week's MC at Wentworth, I'm not about to jump ship and watch him stroll to victory in the tournament he is hosting.

Group 2: Shane Lowry: The Irishman will have plenty of fan support, and he's playing well (sixth at BMW PGA). Also won this event as an amateur in 2009.

Group 3: Alex Noren: The Swede is on the comeback trail this year, and he capped it with a T-8 finish Sunday in England before surviving a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier on Monday, where he closed with a 64.

Group 4: Graeme Storm: Storm has shown flashes of form this season, including last week at Wentworth when he reeled off six birdies in a row to move up the leaderboard.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Coming off a MC, the world No. 1 should be highly motivated to perform well for an event that benefits his foundation. He’s donating all his winnings this week.

Group 2: Miguel Angel Jimenez: The ageless Spaniard is on a really nice streak coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Spanish Open and the BMW PGA with top-10 finishes in his last three stroke-play starts.

Group 3: James Morrison: Coming off three top-20 finishes that include a victory at the Spanish Open.

Group 4: Soren Kjeldsen: Aiming to build on back-to-back top-20 finishes, Kjeldsen is looking for his fourth European Tour title, his first in six years.