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P.J. Murray 27th Jul 2011 - 15:01

Can Mark foster a winning mentality

After their current exploits across the globe, the recent Irish Major winners return to the Emerald Isle as they compete for the Irish Open title in the picturesque setting of Killarney Co Kerry.

Ross Fisher travels to the South West as the current Irish Open Champion, but the Englishman has not been performing at his best in recent tournaments, but the July/August time seems to be when he flourishes. His second round 61 here last year still lives on in the memory as well as his battle with Padraig Harrington whom he held off to claim his last title. Since 2007 Fisher has won a title every year, so far in 2011 he has yet to top the leader board on a Sunday evening. He didn't play in the US Open and missed the cut at the Masters, but he has said that he is feeling confident and at 20/1 he is well in the mix at the top of the field.

It's no surprise that with their recent exploits it's a trio of Irish golfers who head the betting. McIlroy, Harrington and McDowell are all fantastic golfers, but it must be said that recent form seems to defy their short pricing.

Rory McIlroy, how much has been written about him this year, but once again finds himself at the peak of betting books. Since his sensational US Open win the Hollywood native hasn't really been able to repeat his performance, although bagging Caroline Woznicaki shows he still has game but at 7/2 he is way too short.

Padraig Harrington notched up two quick Major wins in 2008 and then decided to change his swing and ever since he has been conspicuous through his absence. His last tour win came in the Irish PGA Championship in 2009, yet he is the second favourite at 16/1. He will be the star attraction, but if he can deliver on the course is a massive question.

Graeme McDowell is also priced at 16/1 and is devoid of current form. Any form he does produce comes in spurts and spatters and it will be a question of which G-Mac turns up at the first tee on Thursday morning.

Darren Clarke is also high up in the betting, but after his massive celebration how will he fare when faced with another four days golf.

This for me is a tournament which you need to take a look down the betting to get some real value. At 50/1 Mark Foster could be one to follow. He has been there or there abouts in Paris and Munich this year and his ball striking has been top quality. Killarney isn't the toughest course he will face, but it will come down to his prowess on the greens. He has wilted come the final day and if he is to win here he will need to keep his head.

Shane Lowry came from nowhere two years ago to win the Irish Open at Baltray in Co Louth. The Irishman will be competing in his only event in five weeks after attending his sister's wedding, so he should be well up for it. Also he is looking to make a push to qualify for the Dubai World Championship and as such will need a good performance here. He is 33/1 and certainly could be worth an each way shout.

Gregory Bourdy hasn't won on tour since he held off Rory McIlroy to win the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2009, but the Bourdeaux native has shown some solid form and although he may not be topping the leader board he is been solidly making cuts. At 3/1 he may well be a good bet for the Top French Player.

My only punt will be against the Irish and for Mark Foster to claim his first European Tour win or at least finish in the top five with an each way bet.


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