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Nic Ladds 12th May 2009 - 12:46

Paddy to lead way at Baltray

This week's 3M Irish Open brings a welcome return to links golf for the European Tour where three-time Major man Padraig Harrington is the 10/1 betting favourite at Baltray.

Form students need to return to the 2004 season for the last time this venue was used where Aussie wind-expert Brett Rumford won fairly easily in the end by four blows from second-placed Harrington and Raphael Jacquelin.

Judging by the results from five years ago it would appear that an excellent short game is a prerequisite for success at Baltray.

Paul Broadhurst and Nick O’Hern who finished fifth and eighth respectively, as well as Rumford and Harrington are all superb scramblers, especially on links layouts and that’s something that we need to keep at the foremost of our thoughts when rooting out this week’s winner.

Unsurprisingly, Harrington tops this year’s European scrambling stats and given his two British Open wins he seems like an extremely worthy favourite. Could that 10/1 be the bet of the season?

I believe it could be and the Dubliner, who lives less than 30kms south of the Drogheda track, must be our first selection given his amazing links record and previous form here. Go for the 10/1, win only.

Second up is another Major man - a dual winner of one of golf’s four great annual prizes.

Daly is serving a 6-month US PGA ban - though not for wearing those trousers

The legendary and now “slimline” John Daly, who is serving a six-month ban from the US PGA Tour, looks to be really enjoying his golf again in Europe and that’s an impression backed up with his tied second finish in Italy last week.

JD can certainly play links golf as well having won the Open at St Andrews in 1995. And before getting the money down, let’s just have a quick inspection of this year’s top scramblers list. There he is, lying 11th, that will do us nicely thank you very much. Take Hill’s superb Irish Open odds of 40/1 each-way.

Daly famously wrote a song titled “All my exes wear Rolexes”, well we might be able to afford one if he comes good here.

2004 winner Rumford completes our three off the tee for this week. Having grown up learning his trade in Perth it is no wonder the Aussie is a fantastic operator when the trousers are flapping.

He backed up his Irish win with victory at Crans-Sur-Sierre (Omega Masters) in 2007 - a track notable for its upturned saucer style greens where short games are brutally exposed. His best recent effort was 15th at the Ballantines Championship in Korea - an event that we remember for shocking high winds.

With blustery weather forecast over the four days from Thursday don’t be surprised to see Rumford go very close. His outright betting odds of 66/1 (take him each-way) look too good to miss.

For punters betting-in-running Baltray links unusually has three par fives in the first six holes so that’s a stretch you realistically need your man to score well over. The par four 470-yard 11th is probably the toughest hole on the course and the 332-yard par four 14th is driveable for the really big hitters.

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