The Irish Open is back at Carton House for the first time since 2006.
The Colin Montgomerie-designed course is 10 years old, has little in the way of water hazards but an abundance of deep bunkers.
Despite being inland - around 10 miles west of Dublin city centre - it offers a distinct links feel.
And with putting surfaces full of subtle slopes, accurate iron play will be a key requirement this week.
This will be the third Irish Open to be staged at the course but the first since 2006.
The leading contenders
Rory McIlroy (15/2): The world number two is the automatic favourite this week but there are some good reasons to oppose him. He's never won a European Tour event in Europe, he's still winless in 2013 and more off-course distractions (changing management groups again) may have something to do with his latest form which shows a missed cut (Wentworth), a 57th (Memorial) and a 41st (US Open). He played in this event at Carton House as a young amateur, shooting 71-81, although a 7th at Adare Manor in 2008 and a 10th at Royal Portrush last year do offer some encouragement.
Graeme McDowell (12/1): In his last six starts G-Mac has produced the most feast or famine set of results in the history of golf - MC-Win-MC-Win-MC-MC. So what can we expect this week? His recent Irish Open form is nothing special with a 16th (2012), a 25th (2011) and a 31st (2010) while two starts at Carton House resulted in a Friday exit each time. In fact, he's never had a top 10 in 11 Irish Open starts so he's either due or just gets too distracted in this event to make a serious challenge.
Thomas Bjorn (14/1): The Dane has finished runner-up in his last two starts and will definitely feel that victory slipped through his fingers in last week's BMW International Open in Germany. It means his form figures for the last five events show 2-2-4-40-8 and in the last three he's putted superbly. To add to his credentials, Bjorn won here at Carton House in 2006 and can boast four other top fives in the event. No wonder his odds are so short.
Padraig Harrington (18/1): You'd expect the other major-winning Irishman in the field to have some hot form in his home Open and that's certainly the case. The double Open champion and USPGA winner won at Adare Manor in 2007 and was also runner-up at County Louth in 2001 and Killarney in 2010. Overall, he's made the top seven on eight occasions. He's had some decent results in America of late (10th St Jude, 21st US Open) so Harrington could easily emerge as the best Irish hope this week.
Ross Fisher (25/1): The Englishman has an excellent Irish Open record with a victory at Killarney in 2010, a fifth here at Carton House in 2005 and a 10th at Royal Portrush last year. He's been in decent form over the last two months - 10th Wells Fargo, eighth Nordea Masters, 18th BMW last week - although there was major disappointment for him at the International Final Qualifying event at Sunningdale on Monday when he lost a play-off for the final spot for this year's Open at Muirfield.
Shane Lowry (25/1): Lowry knows Carton House like the back of his hand as he's the attached touring pro and lives just around the corner. Famously, he won this event as an amateur at County Louth in 2009, some sharp-eyed Irish punters pulling off a huge coup when backing him at prices of 500/1 and upwards. Lowry, now an established European Tour star, was 12th at Wentworth recently and closed with a 65 to finish 22nd in Munich last weekend so is rounding into form nicely.
SELECTED PLAYERS with GOOD to REASONABLE FORM in IRELAND
Last Eight European Tour Events in Ireland
Player: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8
Felipe Aguilar: - / - / - / 2 / MC / MC / 21 / MC
Richard Bland: MC / MC / MC / MC / 10 / 5 / 45 / 18
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: - / 37 / 18 / - / 20 / MC / MC / 2
Darren Clarke: 15 / - / - / 16 / 14 / 12 / MC / 39
Stephen Dodd: Won / MC / 51 / 56 / 25 / MC / MC / -
Jamie Donaldson: 46 / - / - / MC / 13 / 21 / 45 / Won
Bradley Dredge: 9 / 2 / MC / 8 / MC / MC / MC / 24
David Drysdale: - / MC / MC / 63 / 35 / 14 / 25 / 7
Simon Dyson: 9 / 7 / MC / MC / 41 / MC / Won / 10
Johan Edfors: - / MC / 34 / 13 / 3 / 14 / - / 69
Ross Fisher: MC / MC / - / 24 / 50 / Won / 17 / 10
Lorenzo Gagli: - / - / - / - / - / - / 8 / 24
Stephen Gallacher: MC / 37 / MC / 24 / MC / 27 / 3 / 44
Richard Green: 20 / 4 / 18 / 40 / MC / 5 / 2 / MC
Soren Hansen: 31 / 37 / 7 / - / 57 / - / 5 / -
Anders Hansen: 17 / - / - / - / 20 / 12 / - / -
Padraig Harrington: 20 / Won / 51 / 31 / MC / 2 / MC / 7
Gregory Havret: - / MC / 3 / 24 / 61 / 39 / - / -
Mikko Ilonen: - / Wd / 15 / 16 / MC / MC / - / 10
Raphael Jacquelin: MC / 7 / 11 / - / 41 / - / 25 / -
Simon Khan: 4 / 45 / 11 / 40 / 35 / 27 / 52 / 69
Maarten Lafeber: 20 / 45 / 51 / 3 / 41 / 53 / 71 / MC
Pablo Larrazabal: - / - / - / 16 / 30 / MC / - / -
Peter Lawrie: MC / MC / MC / 22 / MC / MC / 8 / MC
Thomas Levet: - / 63 / 7 / - / 8 / - / - / MC
Shane Lowry: - / - / - / - / Won / 21 / MC / 51
Graeme McDowell: 26 / 31 / 18 / MC / Ret / 31 / 25 / 16
Paul McGinley: 4 / 58 / MC / 16 / 67 / 14 / MC / 54
Damien McGrane: 31 / 12 / MC / MC / 57 / 35 / 21 / 64
Rory McIlroy: - / - / - / 7 / 50 / 35 / 34 / 10
Francesco Molinari: 46 / 7 / 60 / MC / Dq / 8 / - / 10
Richie Ramsay: - / - / - / - / MC / 9 / 65 / 16
Robert Rock: MC / MC / 11 / MC / 2 / Dq / MC / 65
Brett Rumford: MC / 52 / MC / - / 8 / 9 / Ret / MC
Jeev Milkha Singh: 4 / MC / 34 / 40 / - / - / 11 / 30
Graeme Storm: 4 / MC / 45 / - / 20 / 21 / MC / MC
Simon Wakefield: 31 / 3 / 34 / MC / MC / - / 15 / -
Marc Warren: MC / 12 / 25 / MC / 4 / Dq / - / 39
Key: 1 - The K Club ('06); 2 - Adare Manor ('07); 3 - The K Club ('07); 4 - Adare Manor ('08); 5 - Co Louth ('09); 6 - Killarney ('10); 7 - Killarney ('11); 8 - Royal Portrush ('12)
SELECTED PLAYERS with POOR to MEDIOCRE FORM in IRELAND
Last Eight European Tour Events in Ireland
(No Top-30 Finishes from three or more starts)
Player: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8
Fredrik Andersson: - / 45 / MC / MC / - / - / - / 67
Gregory Bourdy: - / MC / MC / - / MC / - / MC / 33
Michael Campbell: MC / MC / 51 / - / MC / MC / MC / MC
Alejandro Canizares: - / - / Wd / 45 / MC / 44 / 59 / 44
Magnus A Carlsson: - / - / - / MC / MC / - / MC / -
Christian Cevaer: 46 / 37 / 34 / MC / MC / MC / 40 / -
SSP Chowrasia: - / - / - / MC / 61 / MC / MC / MC
Robert Coles: MC / - / - / - / - / 57 / 45 / MC
Rhys Davies: - / - / - / - / MC / MC / 52 / MC
Alan Dunbar: - / - / - / - / - / MC / MC / MC
Darren Fichardt: MC / Ret / - / - / - / - / - / MC
David Higgins: 56 / 37 / 56 / MC / - / MC / MC / MC
Michael Jonzon: - / 31 / - / - / 72 / - / MC / MC
Gary Lockerbie: - / 52 / 56 / - / 69 / MC / - / -
Gareth Maybin: - / - / - / - / MC / MC / MC / MC
Richard McEvoy: MC / - / MC / - / - / 35 / MC / MC
Damian Mooney: - / MC / - / MC / MC / MC / MC / MC
Hennie Otto: - / - / - / - / MC / MC / MC / MC
Patrik Sjoland: - / MC / 41 / MC / 50 / 66 / MC / -
Richard Sterne: MC / 37 / - / - / MC / - / - / 44
Peter Whiteford: - / - / - / MC / - / 31 / 52 / 51
TOP-10 Finishers at ROYAL PORTRUSH in 2012 (Not Already Listed Above)Fabrizio Zanotti: (T-2nd)
Mark Foster: (T-5th)
Mikael Lundberg: (T-5th)
Craig Lee: (T-7th)
Paul Waring: (T-10th)
CARTON HOUSE FORM
(One Top-10 or Two Top-30 Finishes)
Player: '05 / '06
Thomas Bjorn: - / Won
Paul Casey: - / 2
Christian Cevaer: 28 / 15
Darren Clarke: 17 / 3
Stephen Dodd: Won / MC
Bradley Dredge: 18 / 5
Ross Fisher: - / 5
Padraig Harrington: 5 / 11
Peter Hedblom: MC / 4
David Howell: 2 / -
Maarten Lafeber: 22 / 5
Robert Rock: - / 5
Richard Sterne: 9 / Ret
Oliver Wilson: 9 / Wd
Note: Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell missed the cut at Carton House in both 2005 and 2006.
LOWEST ROUNDS at CARTON HOUSE
66: Titch Moore (2005)
66: Oliver Wilson (2005)
66: Nick O'Hern (2005)
66: Thomas Bjorn (2006)
67: Six times (includes Thomas Bjorn)
Carton House: Par 72; 7,301 yards
2006: 283 (Thomas Bjorn)
2005: 279 (Stephen Dodd)
Winning Totals (Last Three Years):
2012: 270 (Jamie Donaldson - Royal Portrush)
2011: 269 (Simon Dyson - Killarney)
2010: 266 (Ross Fisher - Killarney)
The big Irish names will get all the spotlight and all the crowds but history has shown that this could be a good week for someone to sneak in under the radar.
So one interesting contender at 50/1 could be American Peter Uihlein.
In his last nine starts on the European Tour he's posted a victory at the Madeira Island Open and five other top 12s. They include 12th at Wentworth and 10th in Germany last week so he can cut the mustard in decent fields too.
A Madeira winner can obviously handle windy conditions so Uihlein could be a good play.
I might also have an each-way punt on youngster Brandon Stone.
The South African sensation is going to be a star according to many well-respected judges in the game and showed immediate signs of living up to that early billing when 10th on his pro debut in Germany last week.
Stone had just one year at college in the US but made a huge impact during his time at Texas University and was announced as the 2013 NCAA Freshman of the Year.
As you might expect, he isn't short of confidence. Asked if he was surprised to be contending for victory last week he replied: "I wouldn't say surprised. Coming into this week, I was playing phenomenal golf. I finished second at the National Championship, so I knew I was playing great."
Playing with Matteo Manassero in Munich helped Stone believe that it's possible for guys his age to win on the European Tour so, while everything is coming easy to him, he's worth a bet a three-figure price.
1.5pts e.w. Peter Uihlein at 50/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt e.w. Brandon Stone at 100/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)