EUROPEAN Tour golf specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) returns to share his thoughts on the upcoming Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship | 5th – 8th October 2017 | Sky Sports
A profitable week in the end last week but hard not to be disappointed with three players right in contention going into the last round but ultimately just the one 50/1 place.
Anyway, onto the next one and it’s a slightly different structure at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship up in Scotland. There are three different courses used in rotation over the first three days.
Every player will play St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarn before a cut is made and the top 60 play St Andrews again on Sunday.
As an added extra, the pros are joined by amateurs, normally celebs, for the first three days and together play a team tournament on the side. The top 20 teams also play St Andrews on Sunday to find the winner.
As a result it isn’t necessarily a great watch, especially the first three days. Also, with everyone playing different courses with different difficulties in different conditions, it isn’t the easiest to a) predict and b) follow.
Conditions and courses
Next year’s host of The Open is Carnoustie and it’s the harder of the three so it may be best to play there on the better days weather-wise. At the moment it looks like Thursday is the worst in terms of wind and a bit of rain but obviously that’s subject to change.
The draw isn’t made until Tuesday evening, which is a bit of a pain, but with unreliable forecasts I’m going to forge ahead hope for the best draw and weather-wise.
Without any wind both St Andrews and Kingsbarn can be scored on and with the course set up favourably to accommodate the celebs, it’s no surprise this tournament tends to be a birdie fest.
As always with links golf, form on links courses is very important, which also explains why 12 of the 16 winners have been from Great Britain and Ireland.
Also, rounds can take quite a while to complete with celebs of varying ability plodding around so you have to be the right kind of character and fairy relaxed to do well.
Rory McIlory is the heavy favourite at 6/1. I don’t like to take prices that short but he’s well worthy of that price. He’s spoken about his excitement to play this tournament for a while now and is playing with his dad.
The indication is that he’s mentally in the right place and coming off second last week, I couldn’t put anyone off him.
I’m taking a rather simplistic approach to the tournament and going with feelings on the whole.
Tommy Fleetwood (22/1 Paddy Power)
I put my faith in Tommy Fleetwood a fair bit but is my first choice at 22/1. He missed the British Masters to be at the birth of him first child but it’s proven a good omen for many on their first start back.
Danny Willett and the Masters springs to mind. He’ll be in jovial spirits, which could well be the best headspace to be in this week.
His record at this tournament isn’t to be ignored either – his record reads 5-55-5-2-12-15. He missed the cut at The Open when held at St Andrews in 2015 but I can let him off that. He says it’s his favourite tournament and St Andrews is his favourite course.
All things considered, Tommy’s got a great chance this week.
Marc Warren (66/1 Coral)
Someone I’ve backed too often in the past without much success is Marc Warren. Though saying that, I did put him up at 150/1 in this last year and he came fifth for a decent each-way pay-out. Also last year I had the winner in Hatton at 66/1.
A repeat this year would be nice. Warren is into 66/1 from 150s last year but there’s good reason for that; he’s actually in a rare bit of good form. Last week he had a tied 15th and the week before in Portugal was second.
The Scotsman is very up and down but links is where he plays best. As mentioned, he was fifth here last year which was the second time he’s done that in his career here. He’s also got three top-five’s at the Scottish Open since 2012, so home is where he clicks.
Matthew Southgate (125/1 Bet365)
Matthew Southgate gave us a huge each-way pay out at The Open in July to add to his impressive links course form. He opened up at a massive price on Monday lunchtime and quite rightly has been backed but is still available at 125/1.
I backed him at The Open due to a second at the Irish Open a few weeks earlier and because of those two I’m going back in again.
Recently Southgate has been over on the Web.com tour trying to get a PGA Tour card. He failed in that, partly due to a ridiculous ruling (look it up) but did put up a fifth three weeks ago so is in decent form.
He’s also a member at Carnoustie so he may be an early one to keep an eye on for next year’s Open and maybe even the Ryder Cup.
Top 20 Finish
Finally, there’s a young Irishman who’s been causing a few ripples around Twitter the last six months or so.
Gavin Moynihan is the name to remember and has an invite to take part in his first European Tour event that isn’t the Irish Open. He’s had a decent year on the Challenge Tour without any standout results – the problems have been consistency from round-to-round.
By far his best result of the season came in his only European Tour appearance at the Irish Open where a final round 64 vaulted him up to a tied-14th finish.
He’s 500/1 to win the tournament which is more than fair but a top 20 finish is 33/1 (Stan James) and worth a flutter.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Tommy Fleetwood (22/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Marc Warren (66/1 each-way Coral)
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Matthew Southgate (125/1 each-way Bet365)
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Gavin Moynihan top 20 finish (33/1 Stan James)