Padraig Harrington has seen the the two faces of Adare Manor.
His verdict: Who dares, wins.
Two years ago he shot 15 under for two rounds in the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, including a course record 63.
Three weeks ago he came back to play the lengthened course with his brothers and breezed around in balmy summer conditions with a skip in his step
But this week the Robert Trent Jones track has become a 7,400 yard beast and Harrington knows that the player who takes risks and pulls them off can sneak an advantage on the field.
He said: “Tee it green it is like a US Open. You are under pressure on every tee shot to give yourself a good start on every single hole.
“But the difference between a US Open and an Irish Open is the temperature and the softness of the greens.
“In the US you have the advantage that the ball simply flies further, but here the greens are softer and if you hit the fairways you can attack the pins.
“The problem is that you have to hit the fairways and it is an intimidating course off the tee. It is just a tough challenge out there and if you dare to take on the challenges you can make birdies.”
With holes such as the 481-yard eighth and 631-yard ninth playing into the teeth of the prevailing wind, Harrington has seen the ugly side of Adare Manor.
But he is still convinced that there are birdies to be made if you stand on the 18th or ninth fairways you will have the best seat in the house.
Harrington said: “It is very protected and very sheltered out there. I played it yesterday and I found it tough. Three weeks ago it was sunny and it was fantastic.
“When you turn up on a Monday you think, wow, how will I get around this course. But you always find a way.
“I played the ninth three weeks ago and with a tiny wind behind it was definitely on in two. Played it yesterday and it wasn’t too bad - a tough par five. The intimidation factor is high and it is a tough hole.
“All I know is that the last time I played a tournament here I shot 63. Hopefully I can shoot 63 this week.
“It was a pro-am and they were probably the two best rounds I have ever played. I just hit it, found it and hit it again. If I could take that attitude out on the course all the time I would be okay.
“We are playing a 7,400 yard golf course in medium temperature. It is certainly not cold but the ball will travel two clubs shorter in this temperature compared to a very sunny day.
“I was hitting a six iron yesterday 160 yards, where in the States it would certainly be no more than an eight iron. That is where the difference is. If it gets warm and windy out here it will play very well.
“As for my chances of winning, I have a few reservations in terms of a little bit of jet lag, but I don’t have great reservations. So I could have a good week.”
Here’s Harrington’s hole by hole guide
1st Par 4 444 yards
It is certainly one of the toughest holes. You can’t afford to miss it down the right with the tree overhanging. I hit drive and wedge in the JP McManus and a drive and seven iron in nice weather. In tough conditions it can be a five iron in there.
2nd Par 4 480 yards
It is a long hole off the very back and when I missed the fairway in a practice round in April, I couldn’t get up in two. It is a driver and you have to hit the fairway. The tree on the right doesn’t come into play.
3rd Par 4 442 yards
The only issue with that is that it is a very severe dogleg. When I played it in the JP I hit a five-wood off the tee. Now it is a driver. I hit one left, with a draw and it just about didn’t run out on the right. It kind of forces you to hit a three-wood off the tee so it is a reasonably long hole. Three-wood and six iron maybe.
4th Par 3 178 yards
All the par threes are good. Tight hole. It is a six iron but with a crosswind the back pin position is difficult to get close with the river behind.
5th Par 4 421 yards
The bunker on the right is not the line. You lay up just left of the bunker and then hit an eight iron on the green. There is no point in hitting driver. Your chances of hitting the fairway are halved. The bunker has rough behind it so there is no point. But you must find the fairway
6th Par 3 203 yards
It is a long hole where you have to play in to the right half of the green and let the slope bring it down to the pin. Don’t miss left. It is a hole to play conservatively for your three.
7th Par 5 528 yards
It is a different hole now. I went for the green both times in the JP McManus Pro-Am when we had the wind off the left. It is a big carry over the right hand trap, even downwind, around 300 yards. That would make the hole quite short. I hit it just left of the bunker and ran through the fairway. For a longer hitter it is a bit of an awkward hole. But it is well within range, no doubt about that. Even into a slight wind you can still reach it. If the bunker wasn’t there, it is exactly where you want to land your tee shot. It is all about getting your tee shot away and then the second shot is a lot easier.
8th Par 4 481 yards
The new tee makes you play out right of the bunker and takes away any temptation to shorten the hole. The green is a big enough target. The new tee makes it into a tough par four where before it was more exciting off the forward tee. The green is quite severe for a long iron. It is just a tough, solid, par-four.
9th Par 5 631 yards
I think it is my favourite hole on the course. I really love that green up there and I think the setting is fabulous. It will be reached in two. No question about it. I know it is 630 yards with a tight second shot from 280 yards with woodlands on the right and a few trees on the left. There will be more bad scores from the guys trying to reach it on two than the guy trying to play it as a par five. There is no difficulty trying to play it as a five. If you miss right you have to re-load. It is a great hole with a tempting but difficult second shot. I see it as an exciting hole if the wind is in the right direction.
OUT 36 3,808
Hole Par Yards
10th Par 4 437 yards
The new tee has made the hole easier but probably a better hole. You are hitting more up into the fairway rather than across.
11th Par 3 230 yards
It was a four iron with no wind off the back tee. It could be a hybrid and it is a very narrow green for a club like that. You will see birdies on the tighter par threes. On the sixth, there is a generous green. But on the likes of four and 11, your only choice is to hit at the flag because he green is only 15 yards wide. Anyone who hits the green is going to have a good birdie chance. You will see birdies on 4 and 11. Good par threes with birdies and bogeys.
12th Par 5 551 yards
You are tempted to go over the bunker but there is rough there. It is a difficult green to get on in two and you will find a lot of guys hitting into the bunkers around the green trying to get up and down for birdie.
13th Par 4 433 yards
My second favourite hole. I like the enclosure of it. The new tee doesn’t change the hole. It just makes it a driver instead of a three wood. You hit to the top of the hill and it is a seven-iron from there. Very few golf courses have as many enclosed holes as Adare. There are a lot of hardwoods in there and you can’t see other holes at all. Other courses have cleared it out and you can see through to other holes. But not at Adare.
14th Par 4 444 yards
It’s only a good driving hole when he pin is on the right. You need to hit the fairway for your distance control over he water. When the pin is on the left hand side it is not too long a hole in calm conditions. It is a much tougher prospect with the pin right. Coming from rough you have to go for the fat and try and two-putt from very long range.
15th Par 4 378 yards
You have to take on the intimidation factor with the river on the right. I will be paying a lot of attention to the water and I will do well to hit that fairway all four days. With the river on the right there is a strong chance you will go left. It is a big enough target to hit and they might move the tee up 40 yards and try and tempt us to go for the green and that might make it a better hole. A lovely golf hole and if you get into position and have a wedge in every day, you will be happy. It does get windy there though. It is a three and half if you hit the fairway and a four and half if you miss.
16th Par 3 167 yards
A very tough par three. It is a seven iron hole and you will see more threes than twos, unlike the tougher fourth and 11th. Most guys will hit it 30 feet past and try and two putt. But if you are behind, it gives you an opportunity to try and catch up. The leader can’t go at the pin but a guy coming from behind can take a chance. It is a hole that will be played safely.
17th Par 4 457 yards
It seems an innocuous hole until you are driving into a gap that is 20 yards wide. If you miss that fairway on the right you won’t reach the green. On 18 if you miss the fairway you will still reach in three. But not 17.
That is a good stout hole. Hit the fairway and that’s it. But the green is tight for the back pin position too. Right half of the fairway is the line. Just don’t miss.
18th Par 5 548 yards
On 18 I’ll be hoping that I have got 6 to win. But seriously, I genuinely did have a look to see how I could play it with five to win. I did have a look to see. The 18th hole is a very important course and if you have got to make a four or a five you have got to know how you are going to play it.
With the weather it could change. It could be three wood off the tee. The lay up, if you are hitting the fairway, is easy. It is a tough four but it should be a reasonable five.
It suits a shorter hitter because there more room down the right with a 290 run out on the tree, which is a lovely line to go on. It is a tight second shot as well to a small area. It is one hole I still have to figure out. You will make a few birdies by laying up. I went for it twice in the JP and made birdie from around the green.
IN 36 3,645
TOTAL 72 7,453