Outright Golf Line
THE SCOTTISH OPEN
- From 2011 this championship has been played on links courses to give the players a vital experience of links golf with the Open Championship played the following week.
The Renaissance Course
- This Tom Doak designed par 71 course opened as recently as 2008. It is 7,136 yards in length with 4 par 5s and unusually 5 par 3s. It has large undulating greens and reports suggest that the rough is heavy.
- As always on a links course ability is needed to play solid shots when the winds blow. So is the skill to play good shots both through the air and on the ground. The Renaissance course is said to be more undulating than its neighbouring courses at Muirfield and North Berwick. It was created out of a pine forest so it is an unusual links course.
- Is headed by Rory Mcilroy and American raiders Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Justin Thomas.
- Wednesday – Some heavy rain is expected on the eve of the tournament.
- Thursday – Windy in the morning with some rain.
- Friday – Light winds with afternoon rain.
- Saturday – Dry with light winds.
- Sunday – Some afternoon rain with winds only 7-11 mph
- This week we have to determine which players are playing essentially to get their games and their minds into good shape for next weeks Open compared to the majority who really want to have a big week because of the world ranking and Race to Dubai points at stake and of course because of the big financial rewards on offer in this Rolex Series event.
This week there are 4 bets at 35/1, 45/1, 50/1 + 125/1 for a total stake of 11 points.
NO 1 PICK—ANDY SULLIVAN—TWO POINTS EW—-45/1[1/5 1-7]
- ‘Sulli’ was in the world’s Top 30 after 3 ET wins in 2015 in two of which we backed him.
- However, he lost form and confidence in 2016 and 2017 and fell down the World rankings.
- However, he is now firmly on the ‘Comeback Trial’ helped considerably by the birth last year of his first son[third child] so the ‘Nappy Factor’ is definitely at work.
- His recent form figs are 33-26-13 and 2nd last week in the Irish Open when heputted well.
- Andy is a proven links player and so enjoys the Scottish Open in which he was T6th in 2016 +T9th in 2017 although he missed the cut when out of form last year. He was also 10th in last year’s Dunhill Links.
IN SUM—Andy is a proven good links player who is in good current form and has ‘Nappy Factor’ inspiration.
NO 2 PICK—HAOTONG LI—ONE AND A HALF PTS EW—-35/1[1/5 1-8]
- Li is in good form having finished T15th[68-68-69-66] last week in the Irish Open when he was just one shot per round outside T4th place. He has now made the cut in his last 8 starts.
- We know he can play good links golf as he has had 2 big links finishes in the last 2 years. He was 3rd in the Open in 2017 when only 22 years of age. Last year in November he also confirmed his links ability when T5th in the Dunhill Links.
- Chinese star Haotong Li won the China Open in 2016 and he followed up with a second win on the ET in last year’s Dubai Desert Classic.
- An improving hugely talented player Li putted well last week in Ireland when he was 6th for putts per GIR.
IN SUM—Li could well become this week’s ‘surprise’ golfer.
ERIK VAN ROOYEN—ONE POINT EW—50/1[1/5 1-8]
- We noted EVR two weeks ago in the MHNRU after he was ranked 1st GIR when finishing T16th in the BMW International. Given his solid form this season–2nd in Qatar and Morocco and an impressive 8th in the last major, the USPGA plus his good links form last summer when 4th in the Irish Open and 17th in the Open he was made last week’s No 1pick at 33/1.
- As you know he missed the cut at just 1 over par just 3 behind Jon Rahm who went on to win!
- So I’m prepared to forgive him esp. when his record shows that last year his best finish of the year when T4th in the Irish Open came a week after he’d missed the cut by 4 shots in France!
IN SUM—-Erik remains an improving player who is also a sound links player.
RICHARD STERNE—ONE POINT EW—-125/1[1/5 1-8]
- Last year in the Scottish Open the 37-year-old South African was 2nd for dr. accuracy and 1st GIR when he finished T14th let down by his putting.
- This season he was 9th in Morocco,13th in Saudi and 2nd in Abu Dhabi with his recent from figs 26-34th last week in the Irish Open.
- His record in this tournament is ‘consistency on stilts’ as he has finished 13th-19th-14th in the last 3 years.
- Last year there were two South Africans in the Top 5 places.
- A 5 time ET winner[last in 2013] if the chance comes he knows how to cross the winning line.
IN SUM—His accurate approach play can be the basis for a serious challenge this week.
John Deere Classic
- This event is established in the week before The Open Championship and completes the new 3-week mid-west swing. It’s played at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. The course was specifically built to host the tournament
- This D.A. Weibring design is officially 7,268 yards on the scorecard, though dramatic changes of elevation mean it plays shorter than that.
- The difficult holes are the par 4s which close each of the nines, otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward. The par 5s are the 2nd, 10th and 16th in a 35-36 par 71. Between them, they gave up 41 eagles in 2018. The downhill par 4 14th can be set up to be drivable and saw another pair of eagles.
- The greens are bentgrass.
- Michael Kim’s winning score in 2018 of 27 under-exaggerates the low-scoring necessity here–he won by 8 shots–but shows the potential. Paul Goydos once shot 59 on the track and over the last 4 years alone there have been 62 rounds of 64 or lower. Nobody has ever won here when shooting an over-par round during the tournament.
- High finishes on debut are relatively rare and the course has had a number of specialists over the years, notably Steve Stricker (3 wins in a row) and Zach Johnson (5 consecutive top 3s).
- Despite the relatively short layout and wide fairways, it’s generally more of a shot-makers’ course than a home for bombers.
- Francesco Molinari was 2nd here last year before picking up the Claret Jug the following week. It will be staggering if history repeats itself in 2019 as star names in this year’s field are thin on the ground.
- Only 13 in the field are due to tee up at Portrush. One more may find himself hastily looking for his passport as the final spot in the major will go to the highest placed person in the top 5 not already qualified.
- It might be a little breezy for the opening round but otherwise, it’s a benign forecast for the week.
- Perhaps inevitably, given the weak field and last week’s result, the head of the market belongs to the young guns, with Hovland (teeing up for the 5th successive week) and Morikawa 20/1 joint favs. Wolff is 28/1 to follow his breakthrough win with his second. Top 5s on debut aren’t unheard of here, but it’s definitely playing the percentages to side with players who have at least some previous experience of TPC Deere Run.
- We have backed Niemann for the last 2 weeks, and in this company, he obviously appeals again, especially as he posted 4 rounds in the 60s when 23rd 2018 here. However, he was only 54th SG putting in the 3M Open and his R4 70 (to slip to 23rd overall) on a day when the entire top 20 posted rounds in the 60s was disappointing.
Just 3 bets this week on players at 28/1, 33/1 and 50/1 for 7 points in all.
NO 1 PICK—BRIAN HARMAN—TWO POINTS EW—28/1 [1/6 1-5]
- Brian secured his breakthrough tour win here in 2014. In all, he has 4 top 25s in 6 visits with 5 of his 20 rounds 65 or lower.
- This time last year he was in the world’s top 30. After he was 6th in the 2018 Travelers he failed to post another top 30 in the second half of the year, though, and that slump continued into 2019–a top 10 in the Players aside–with 10 MCs in his first 14 starts.
- However, he’s made 5 out of 6 since the USPGA, notably posting top 8s in the Travelers (3 rounds of 66) and the 3M Open (R1 and R4 65s).
- The foundation of his improvement has been improved iron play. For the season as a whole, he’s hitting just 63% GIR (181st!) but he’s dipped below 72% only once in those last 6 starts and that helped him drop shots on only 4 holes last week.
IN SUM—His revival is ideally timed for an event he clearly relishes and he looks sure to go well.
NO 2 PICK—DANIEL BERGER—ONE POINT EW—33/1 [1/5 1-6]
- Daniel’s another player who looks to be on the point of turning around a disappointing year.
- Since a wrist injury curtailed his 2018 season he’s struggled for his best form. with 2nd in Puerto Rico the only real highlight.
- He’s missed only one cut in his last 9 starts, though, and last week he posted 4 rounds in the 60s to be 15th in the 3M Open, gaining shots on the field in all 5 SG categories. After some torrid weeks on the greens, it was especially eye-catching that he was 7th birdies.
- 5th 2017 on his only previous start in this event, including R3 63. Also, finished 2nd in the low-scoring 2015 BMW Championship played in Illinois so, despite his Florida roots, clearly feels comfortable here.
IN SUM—His stats have been notably better than his finishing positions recently and this return to a course he’s played well before should lead to a bold showing.
WYNDHAM CLARK—HALF A POINT EW—50/1 [1/5 1-6]
- Wyndham is a former college No 1 who is gradually finding his feet at the pro level. Played the 2017 event here on a sponsor’s exemption but missed the cut on what was just his 3rd start in a tour event.
- Posted 4 top 5s on last year’s Korn Ferry tour and top 10s early in 2019 in the Puerto Rico Open and the Honda Classic.
- He’s renowned as a superb putter (7th SG putting) so it’s no surprise that he’s been very well suited by the run of low-scoring events recently. He’s been 15th-17th-5th with 11 of 12 rounds in the 60s.
- Sure to have learnt plenty [including patience!] from playing with DeChambeau in the penultimate group on Sunday and although his long game struggled a little under the pressure of contention he handled errors well and made only one bogey all day.
IN SUM—Often seen as one of the next young guns to make a breakthrough, his current form suggests that could easily come this week.
NEXT UPDATE WILL BE THE NON OUTRIGHT GOLF LINE TOMORROW by 11 am