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Nic Ladds 12th Jul 2009 - 13:21

Time for Pod to pass the mantle to McIlroy

An extremely interesting market that would appear to revolve chiefly around the winner of the last two Open's Padraig Harrington at odds of 13/8 and young pretender Rory McIlroy who is 5/4 favourite.

Young McIlroy is without a doubt one of the most exciting players on the circuit and will definitely be a Major winner sooner rather than later but to be favourite to top the bill ahead of links specialist and dual winner Harrington is quite an achievement.

Despite his inexperience it would appear McIlroy has no problem carry expectation on his shoulders after a debut 20 in the Masters and 10 in the US Open he has no problem competing with the best at the highest level.

He will have no problem getting to grips with a course like Turnberry having grown up playing and winning on links golf courses and his only conceivable weakness could be his youth and inexperience - is he quite ready to win a Major?

The answer is most probably yes, if he gets himself in that kind of position then he has the talent to win. On the flip side we have Padraig Harrington who has bags of experience, has won this tournament the last two years but comes here in poor form.

If 'Pod' was playing to anything like his best then there is no chance that McIlroy would be favourite over him and many punters may well see the 13/8 as an offensively big price for him.

While you can never discount Harrington in the Open he is yet to finish in the top 10 this year which is a massive worry. He has had well documented problems with his swing and such issues could continue to be his downfall.

There is a chance that the lack of focus on him will allow him to quietly go about his game and get himself in a winning position without anyone really noticing like he did last year when coming from six shots back to take the title.

It is hard to back Pod given his current situation but his price is so big now for outright glory and for top Irish glory that no doubt he will have his backers.

It is not entirely a foregone conclusion that it will be between these two, Graeme McDowell at odds of 7/2 and Darren Clarke priced at 10/1 both have years and years of links experience to draw on and either could be in the mix.

Clarke does not seem to be the force he once was and he has had a quiet season so far but could surprise a few at Turnberry. He has had some good finishes in the Open before but will need to draw on his wealth of experience to be in with a serious chance of challenging.

McDowell meanwhile would be more threatening on current form but even he has had a quiet season by his standards and his poor Open record (never finished in the top 10) does not inspire confidence although this links could bring out the best in him.

With only three other runners, (Paul McGinley 25/1, Damien McGrane 33/1 and David Higgins also 33/1) this does look between the top two in the market.

McIlroy could not be coming in to this tournament with his confidence higher. He has a lot of expectation on his young shoulders but he seems to thrive on that and looks sure to be on the premises.

While it would be dangerous to discount Harrington totally, he is in such bad form that while the heart says he may pull it off, the head is saying no bet.

As a result young Rory looks a good thing to be top Irish player and for many will be a good thing to win the whole tournament.


Rory McIlroy - 5/4

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