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Peter Baker

The defending champion, Peter Baker shot a course record 63 here in the second round last year, on his way to victory.

It was the start of a stellar season for the Englishman and he’s trying to build on the feelgood factor of returning to a venue where he’s already won.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now, to come back to a lovely links course,
really happy to be here. Last year here was the beginning of a really good 12 months, so that gave me a lot of confidence. Having my wife Helen on the bag caddying was brilliant, and I’d always wanted to win in Ireland, so it ticked a lot of boxes.

“I’d not won for a couple of years, so I think it was something that just sort of relieved the pressure. I obviously played well and putted well in the second round. But I remember coming up the 18th and looked at the scoreboard and it had me one better than I thought it was. I was obviously in the zone or whatever you want to call that – so, then I had to check my card over because I actually thought of one shot worse! It was a great round and it’s something I really enjoyed.

“It just gives you a lift coming back to Ireland to play golf and it’s just wonderful. I’ve been very fortunate to play all over Ireland and it’s always the same wherever you go. The people are nice and very supportive really. They know their golf really well and it’s always great to come back. We play some great courses and it’s something I look forward to every year.

“I have not too many opportunities to defend anything, so it’s nice to defend here.”

James Kingston

James Kingston comes into this event off the back of a productive week at Hanbury Manor. The South African finished runner-up to Angel Cabrera in the Paul Lawrie Match Play presented by Petsure, but despite not taking away a victory he is pleased with how his game is shaping up, ahead of this return to a stroke play event: “If somebody said you’re going to be in the final or just make it to Sunday, I would have been pleased.

“I gave myself the opportunity, although I probably let go of a few opportunities in the final, but very pleased overall. The more we play, the better we are. You know, after a four-and-a-half-month layoff, you’ve got to keep playing to get to a point where you feel like you’ve got back into the swing of things and get the rhythm back in a tournament.

“The more regularly you play, the easier it is to get your game back to the way you want it to be. Three weeks in a row does help fine tune the game.

“Ireland is one of those countries that has got so many hidden gems – and this is one of them. They’ve got some really good golf courses here and the typical Irish weather that sometimes goes with the links style of golf. You come here, you know what to expect, and the Irish golf fans are very knowledgeable.

“I remember the good crowds here last year and seeing them spurs you on a bit. I think they understand the game a lot better than fans in some other countries. When you come here, they appreciate golf, they appreciate tournament golf and to see it on a links golf course like this, makes it even better.

“Seapoint is one of those courses where a lot of holes play crosswind, if I remember correctly and that makes it tough to drive the ball well. You’ve got to keep the ball in play with crosswinds. It’s always difficult to judge your iron shots, you know, judging the distance the ball’s going to travel is a lot harder than if you play directly down or into the wind

“I’ve always enjoyed links golf. I’ve played decent on links courses and it brings a bit of imagination into your golf. It’s not just straightforward yardage golf where you hit it to a specific number. Punch shots, run it, keep it on the ground sometimes when you can.”

Patrik Sjöland

Patrik Sjöland is a past winner of the Irish Open on the DP World Tour and was the Legends Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2023, where he won the farmfoods European Senior Masters at La Manga and finished in a tie for 4th place at Seapoint in this event.

“It’s always nice to come back to a course where I’ve had good rounds before. Last year here was the first tournament on the Legends Tour where I finished in the top ten – after that I played pretty well.

“I love links courses. I feel I can bring the most of my game on links courses where I can use my imagination and not just hit it from A to B. I love to play links golf, I always have. I really enjoyed playing the Dunhill Cup at St Andrew’s and the Dunhill links and stuff like that.

“The Irish are very knowledgeable about golf, they come out with good crowds – the Irish people are so friendly, they appreciate when you hit a good shot.

“There are some tough holes at the beginning of this course. Three, four and five were playing straight into the wind, but from what I can see this year it’s a total opposite wind, so those holes are going to be playing slightly easier, but then you will have a more difficult time coming in through 16, 17 and 18.

“It’s going to be tough to reach the par 5 18th in two this year, but I think most of the holes were playing crosswind last year – that’s more difficult, I think, than to play into the breeze.

“Playing into the breeze, the ball stops a lot quicker on the greens, which is the easiest way to play links courses. If you play downwind, you have to adjust and most of the times land short of the green, but the crosswind is always the tougher shot when it blows a lot.

“I’ve had success on links courses before and I love playing it, so hopefully I can finish a little bit higher this year!”

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