GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Scottish Open from The Renaissance Club in North Berwick.
Scottish Open | 11th-14th July 2019 | Sky Sports
Here we are, the Open Championship’s curtain raiser. In between the two trips to Ireland we have the Scottish Open hosted at the Renaissance Club for the very first time.
The third Rolex Series event of the year sees Brandon Stone defend the title he won so impressively with a final round 60.
- Renaissance Club, North Berwick, Scotland.
- Par 71 – 7,136 yards.
- Modern golf links – firm fast undulating greens.
- Wind factor.
- Four par-5s, five par-3s.
- Borders onto Muirfield (host of 2013 Open) and draws comparisons to Castle Stuart (Scottish Open host 2011-13 & 2016).
- Sticking with links specialists/players who play well on links-type courses.
- Players who can handle the wind, if it gets up. Form in UK, Scandinavia, ocean-side courses.
- Recent form with emphasis on last week’s Irish Open (slightly different test but still a links challenge) and the recent British Masters (Hillside).
- Second shot course so good/elite ball-strikers considered (SG:App). Also iron play will be key on the 5 par-3s.
- Strong around-the-green game & scrambling.
- Par-5 scoring as the bulk of scoring should come on these holes, more than reachable for most in the field.
- Rolex Series events are normally won by elite players – or ones you wouldn’t be shocked by when scanning the result in years to come.
There’s a strong field this week with many players warming up for the Open Championship next week – JT, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar join Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson at the top of the market.
Eddie Pepperell (28/1 Betfair)
Some will argue the value is gone on Eddie Pepperell but I expected him to be shorter and he definitely deserves to be closer the favourites in the market.
Pepperell is an expert on links tracks and that was epitomised last week when returning from injury, finishing T4. His appearance before that on the European Tour was a T2 at the British Masters, one shot behind winner Marcus Kinhult – a tournament he won last year.
Pepperell was also runner-up last year at Gullane – which is also in North Berwick – he was amongst the big boys at last year’s Open Championship and has a ton of good finishes in the Alfred Dunhill Links and similar. His other ET win came in Qatar which is often a comparable to a links test.
He rates out fourth for scrambling and par-5 scoring emphasising two key factors here. He showed last week that he was injury free and the price hasn’t gone down too much, maybe because of the stronger contingent. More than happy to side with the ever-likeable Pepperell.
Haotong Li (35/1 Betfair)
China’s Haotong Li loves a links challenge and loves to hunt down the elite in big tournaments (see Dubai Desert Classic vs Rory!). His outstanding short-game and ball-striking makes him an obvious choice to contend this week. I liked what I saw in Ireland with a T15 after a couple of weeks off and a considerable break from the ET.
Scanning through his best finishes on tour you’ll see he loves the links test – 3rd in the 2017 Open, T5th at the 2018 Dunhill Links. He’s also great in the conditions in the Middle East and South Africa which could point towards success here in Scotland. He’s an outstanding talent who deserves more to show for it. Martin Kaymer was so so close to getting this spot for me but I have worries about his short-game, he may prove me to be a fool but we'll see.
Bernd Wiesberger (40/1 SkyBet)
If wind is a factor, then Bernd Wiesberger is usually someone I consider straight away. So I did that expecting him to be nearer the front of the market. 40s is very generous this week. He was ever so consistent through all four rounds last week when finishing runner-up in the Irish Open I expected him to be much shorter.
It was only five events ago in which he won the Made in Denmark, a windy challenge – similar to this week. He won that off the back of some trending form following injury and I think he’s trending well again. Following a 70th at the US Open he’s gone T16-T2.
22nd for SG:Approach on Tour shows how good he is with his irons, throw in a top-60 for around-the-green game and par-5 scoring and he has the attributes we’re looking for this week. This week’s staking plan is very front heavy but Rolex Series events suggest that the elite tend to win.
Grant Forrest (150/1 SkyBet)
I’ll end the plan this week with local boy Grant Forrest. These longshots who know the course never go well but he’s priced too nicely to refuse. In short, he’s played this course a number of times and is enjoying his best season to date.
He qualified for last year’s open with a superb two-round six-under-par last year around this very track (2nd place). On the Challenge Tour he has a number of top-20s in the Scottish tournaments suggesting he may like home comfort and the pressure of dealing with his family and friends watching.
His form is trending nicely, so far culminating in a T15 in last week’s links test. A speculative punt but a worthy man for it.