LOUIS Ross (@LouisRoss67) is back in the hot seat with his best bets for this week’s Scottish Open.
Scottish Open | Thursday – Sunday
The annual warm up to the Open Championship, returns to the stunning Castle Stuart Golf Links and has attracted a more than decent field headed by 10/1 favourite Henrik Stenson.
With the Greenbrier Classic having been cancelled because of flooding, the Scottish Open is the only event being played on either the PGA or European Tours this week.
As usual, there an awful lot of stats to digest but you should concentrate only on the tournaments played in 2011,2012 and 2013 which were all held here.
Luke Donald’s winning score of -19 in 2011 caused a little bit of consternation and around 150 yards was added to the course in 2012. That evidently did little to defend these links as Jeev Milkha Singh and then Phil Mickleson triumphed with totals of -17. For course form purposes, we can ignore last year’s champion Rickie Fowler.
At 7200 yards, Castle Stuart is short by modern standards, especially for a Par 72. Links golf is very different to the brand we normally see Stateside. Most courses on modern PGA and European Tours can be reduced to little more than pitch and putt these days.
I watched Dustin Johnson win last weekend (tipped in-play at 30/1) do little more than drive it miles and then hit short irons or wedges into greens. A proper links course will not allow you to pitch a 6 iron 10 feet from the hole. It is more creative than that. Expect players to bump balls onto the greens, landing maybe 40 yards short of the target.
There is no doubt that this style of golf favours Europeans and South Africans, who are generally far more experienced in similar conditions. You don’t get too many gales in Southern California.
That is not to say that we won’t get a birdie fest and expect a winning score between -15 and -20 depending on how fast the fairways are. It will just be done in a different way. The trick may be telling where fairways end and greens start. I love links golf !
As mentioned already this is a pretty decent field. Stenson is in wonderful form having won a week ago and he is an incredibly streaky player. Had he been closer to 20/1 than single digits, I may have been interested but he is plenty short enough. Martin Kaymer is another in good form but again not too attractive at 14/1.
Mickleson will be the obvious choice for many. Generally available at 16/1, the 20/1 offered by BetVictor will have plenty of takers. I love watching him but just cannot see where he finds four good days from. If he leads at any point, I will be all over the in-play markets.
Shane Lowry had a bit of a meltdown last week whilst defending his WGC Bridgestone title. He maintains that blowing a first Major at Oakmont has had no effect but you are a braver man than me if you play him 20s.
There is only one man I am interested in at the head of the market and that is Branden Grace (he will be tipped next week in my Open piece). Ten wins so far in a relatively short career marks him out as an elite golfer and I have absolutely no doubt he will contend for many more Majors over the next few years.
A winner of the Dunhill Links Championship, you can also find his second victory in Qatar this year as being relevant to this week. Not quite a links course but not far off. he putted incredibly well here in 2013 on his way to losing a playoff against Lefty.
I rarely use the word nap in these pieces but Grace is 100% my nap this week. I used exactly the same words about him when he won for us at 7/1 in January. I will be amazed if he is not in the final group on Sunday.
I was mightily impressed by Chris Wood winning the BMW at Wentworth last month. His touch around the greens is exactly what is required for this style of golf and the stand out quality in his game, namely scrambling will serve him very well at Castle Stuart.
35/1 with Boylesports stands out when he is priced as low as 25s by the likes most of the major high street names. His -18 winning total at the 2013 Qatar Masters is nice piece of form. A win here would all but secure him a place in this year’s Ryder Cup team. An incentive for any golfer surely.
Luke Donald is a name I never imagined appearing here but you have to see what is in front of you and there is no doubt that Luuuuuke (how annoying is that) has returned to the kind of form that incredibly saw him ranked as World Number 1 just four years ago.
The 2011 champion has returned finishes of 16, 16 and 7 in his three appearance since his win here and contended in a couple of PGA events in the last eight weeks. a reliable driver of the golf ball, he has the skills and imagination to put himself in contention once again and I believe he represents some value in this field at 55/1 with Sportingbet.
Thomas Pieters has served us well this year with a couple of huge priced places. The big hitting Belgian should once again contend here. length off the tee is not really an advantage at Castle Stuart. Fairways are wide and easy to hit.
Pieters should come into his own around the greens and has lots of linkable form particularly his KLM Open win last year. On debut here, he is a pick made with a bit of faith but after a couple of weeks layoff, he returned to action with a Top 20 at last week’s French Open. A Top 20 in the Dunhill Links is another nice bit of linkable form.
Finally, I wanted to include some tips from one of my followers. @casual_mark72 has been talking all things golf with me recently and provided a brilliant (No I didnt back him) 66/1 winner last week through Thongchai Jaidee. Please give him a follow.
He is very keen on Luke Donald, Joost Luiten and Tyrell Hatton for this. Nothing wrong with any of those choices. Mark probably knows a little more about some of the European Tour players than I do. Good luck mate.
Scottish Open – Branden Grace to win (12/1 Bet365)
Scottish Open – Chris Wood each way (35/1 Boylesports)
Scottish Open – Luke Donald each way (55/1 Sportingbet)
Scottish Open – Thomas Pieters each way (50/1 Bet365)