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Heading to the Irish Open this week? Here are 5 groups you should keep an eye on

There a number of interesting pairings for the opening two rounds.

THE DUBAI DUTY Free Irish Open gets underway tomorrow with thousands of fans expected to descend on The K Club for what promises to be four exciting days of golf.

Some of the game’s biggest names are in town with the 2016 edition of the prestigious event boasting a quality field.

Here are some of the groups you should follow on Thursday and Friday.

Ross Fisher, Victor Dubuisson and Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington Pádraig Harrington will be well supported. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Thursday’s tee time: 8.05am
Friday’s tee time: 1.05pm

Pádraig Harrington is always likely to draw a crowd and he’s playing alongside 2010 Irish Open winner Ross Fisher and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in the opening two rounds.

The Dubliner always raises his game when he’s home and got off to a blistering start last year before his challenge faded in the wind and rain at Royal County Down.

Playing alongside two recognisable names only adds to the appeal of this group.

Dubuisson has struggled to really get going in 2016 but when the Ryder Cup hero from two years ago clicks into gear, he’s worth watching.

Thomas Bjorn, Martin Kaymer and Matthew Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick File Photo Matt Fitzpatrick is certainly one to watch. Source: Nigel French

Thursday’s tee time: 8.25am
Friday’s tee time: 1.25pm

Matt Fitzpatrick is one of the brightest young talents in the game and will no doubt be in contention come Sunday afternoon. The Englishman’s game is in superb nick and he’s coming off the back of a top 10 finish at Augusta.

After winning his maiden European Tour event at the British Masters last year, he is certainly one to watch this weekend.

Former world number one Martin Kaymer is one of several Major winners in the field while Thomas Bjorn won this event back in 2006.

Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger and Jeunghun Wang

Shane Lowry Lowry is hoping to repeat his exploits of 2009. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Thursday’s tee time: 8.35am
Friday’s tee time: 1.35pm

Jeunghun Wang is the in-form player this week after claiming back-to-back victories at the Trophee Hassan and Mauritius Open. The South Korean is a relatively unknown quantity but will be eyeing up more success in Kildare over the coming days.

Shane Lowry needs no introduction and the crowd favourite will attract the attention of many fans as he looks to win his second Irish Open.

The Offaly man is on the cusp of another big win after challenging at the Players Championship in Sawgrass last week. He arrives home full of confidence and ready for a tilt at the title.

Andy Sullivan, Soren Kjeldsen and Rory McIlroy

Soren Kjeldsen congratulated by Rory McIlroy Defending champion and host are playing together. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Thursday’s tee time: 1.25pm
Friday’s tee time: 8.25am

All eyes are on the tournament host, and world number three, this week as he looks to kick-start his season.

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McIlroy’s record at the Irish Open is less than impressive, not helped by the fact he missed the cut 12 months ago.

He plays alongside the defending champion, Soren Kjeldsen, while Andy Sullivan makes up the three-ball.

Lee Westwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Danny Willett

Danny Willett Masters champion Danny Willett will be a big attraction. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Thursday’s tee time: 1.35pm
Friday’s tee time: 8.35pm

This is arguably the standout group of the opening two rounds with Masters champion Danny Willett, Lee Westwood and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello all notable names in their own right.

It’s Willett’s first appearance in Europe since his sensational win at Augusta and he will hope to push on after his return from action at Sawgrass last week.

Westwood didn’t play at the Players and has been in good touch this year, finishing second behind Willett at the Masters. He hasn’t won this event so could be one to keep a close eye on.

Tee times for Thursday and Friday can be found in full here.

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Ryan Bailey

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