RBC Canadian Open 2014

Prize Money – $5,700,000  RBC-Canadian-Open-Logo

Winner’s Share – $1,026,000

Last week Rory McIlroy treated us to a majestic display of golf, which not only silenced his critics, but also edged the 25 year old further into the golfing elite – where only the likes of Woods and Nicklaus are talked about. We could be watching just the beginning of a very special career.

But over to Canada we go, to the Royal Montreal Golf Club which hosts the Canadian Open for the first time since 2001, where Scott Verplank won the 4th of his 5 career PGA titles.

2001 Bell Canadian Open Leaderboard at Royal Montreal

DSC_0252

Scenes from the 2007 President’s Cup

Being the oldest club in North America and also hosting the 2007 Presidents Cup, you can begin to imagine the aura that surrounds the course. At 7,153 yards, it is one of the shorter tracks on the PGA roster.  With the tight fairways and number of doglegs out there, accuracy will be crucial off the tee whilst the small greens mean there is extra importance on fairway positioning and pin proximity.

Steve Stricker and David Toms were two of the standout performers from the 2007 Presidents Cup which tells its own story considering their accuracy and putting prowess.

After looking through the yardages, you will also need someone with a very competent wedge game. Birdies are likely to flow so you need whoever you are backing to be confident with the short stick too!

TwitterDon’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Jim Furyk (14/1 William Hill)

Now obviously Jim Furyk at 14′s is always a big gamble and slightly criminal, but we just felt too strongly about him to not go there.

He has an amazing history in Canada having won this tournament twice in 2006 and 2007.  Although they were on different courses, it shows his liking for the country at least.  What has impressed us the most about our most favourite unorthodox guru is how he has been playing not just recently but during the whole of 2014.

Can he get the putter going?!

Can he get the putter going?!

He hasn’t missed one cut, which is unusual for someone like Jimbo because of his swing and he has amassed 11 top 20s which includes 5 top 6 finishes.  In fact barring a T51 at the Crowne Plaza he has not finished outside the top 20 since early March.

And how well did he play at The Open?!  When he really gets us going as spectators is the moment he starts getting on a hot streak with the putter.  His tee to green game is up there with the best, his scrambling and wedge play is outstanding, he just has the tendency to let himself down on the greens.

So, seeing him hole quite a few over the weekend – well, during the early part of his round on Saturday at least – was highly encouraging.  He shot a marvelous 65 on Sunday proving he can go low when everything clicks into place and do not be surprised if he does the same again this week.

Especially when you consider he has played on this track during the 2007 Presidents Cup.  He won half of his matches that week, so his prior knowledge gives him an advantage over the majority of the field.

David Hearn (60/1 Stan James)

Will take a lot of confidence from his display at Hoylake

Will take a lot of confidence from his display at Hoylake

It is always good to go into a tournament like this week with a homegrown player.  It would be one of those stories that just makes sense and David Hearn certainly fits the bill here.

He has been playing well recently without properly knocking on the door as it were, apart from a superb T6 at The Players a few months back.  That showed his potential in the best field possible, so we have no doubt that his golfing ability can compare to anyone.

Last week he finished T32, which is a superb finish at a major championship, and his tee to green performance was incredibly solid.  Nearly 70% in both categories proves that and if he can replicate anything similar in front of his home crowd, who knows what he can achieve.   He lies in the top 56 for all GIR stats below 175 yards, which shows how good he is with shorter irons and 29th driving accuracy, 51st GIR and 28th strokes gained putting make him an outrageous proposition.

KJ Choi (66/1 Various)

A wonderful servant to the game and an 8-time PGA Tour winner.  KJ Choi is entering the twilight years of his career, but there is still plenty the South Korean has to offer.

KJYes, he’s missed the cut in his last two outings, but that T2 at the Travelers on a similarly short, tight track gives us the confidence that he can replicate that sort of form over here to Canada.  He was his usual self from tee to green, finding the putting surface for fun and we all know what he is capable of with is putter.  To still be 25th for strokes gained putting is testament to his character with the short stick and that sort of form will be crucial for this week.

T13 at The Players also proves his worth on tougher courses and whilst this is by no means a difficult track, its tightness in places will bare no problems for someone of Choi’s ability.

He also played here during the 2007 Presidents Cup defeat to the Americans and did win his singles match against Mahan.  He, like Furyk, will be one of the few players in the field with a bit of course experience.

Tim Clark (66/1 Coral)

There is no denying Tim Clark has had a disappointing season.  Two top 10s all year is not the sort of golf you would expect from a winner of the Players.   He has bags of ability, it is just putting it all together for him to shine.

Come on Timmy!

Come on Timmy!

Interestingly, his 4 finishes inside the top 21 have come on courses at 7,200 yards or below and obviously this week is another shorter track.

His lack of distance off the tee can obviously hinder him on lengthy courses but 3rd in driving accuracy, 1st GIR 75-100 yards, 62nd inside 75 yards, 37th 150-175 yards, 4th inside 100 yards and 13th inside 125 yards.  Basically, he loves a shorter club and it all ties in together when you think of his performances on the smaller courses.

His last outing did result in an impressive T5 finish at the John Deere Classic, where he shot a 63 and 64 to set himself up for a winning chance on the Sunday.  67 was still an impressive final day score but proved to not be quite enough,

He finished T5 for GIR, T4 for driving accuracy but most interestingly 8th for putting average – often the club that lets him down.  Put all that together here and we could be in for an outsider here!

Outside Bets

Scott Brown (100/1 Stan James)

The 31-year-old has not had the worst 2014 with 4 top 5’s meaning he lies just outside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings.

It was his consistency at the John Deere Classic a couple of weeks ago that has drawn our attention to him. In his eventual T5 finish, which included a third round of 61, he ranked: T17 driving accuracy; 18th putting average and T18 GIR. If he can find fairways around Royal Montreal and putt like he has been, he will be a real threat. In season statistics, he ranks: T25 driving accuracy; T54 approaches from 125-150yards and 26th one-putt %.

Chad Campbell (100/1 Coral)

Rise from the dead?

Rise from the dead?

The 4-time PGA Tour winner has not won for 7 years now after once ranking in the top 10 in the world. For someone of his stature to have only recorded a top 3 finish once since 2009 is a real shame.

But this season, and in particular the last month or so, we have seen a lot of positive vibes coming out of the Campbell camp. After a T7 at the Travelers, he followed it up with a T13 at the John Deere and also shot a third round 62 in the process. He also ranked T7 GIR, all of which has taken our interest.

He ranks: T36 driving accuracy; T11 proximity to the hole; T14 approaches from 125-150 yards and 1st GIR. If he can get the putter going like he did for parts of the John Deere, we could see a rise from the dead not seen since the Undertaker in 2005.

The Open Championship 2014 Final Preview

the open Coral Sports

Prize Money – £5,400,000

Winner’s Share – £975,000

Full Prize Money Breakdown

The week has finally arrived.  It’s time for one of the craziest 4 days of sport, as the crème de la crème in golf bombard the North West of England to try and lift the Claret Jug.

142 editions have gone before and it is now time for the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake to host the 143rd Open Championship.

The Harry Colt design will be hosting its 12th Open and as you would expect, it will present a tough challenge of links golf.

If you want to check out our 1st preview for this years tournament, we have researched links history from the past few years, so please do have a sneak peak for more information!  

We were given an absolute treat in seaside golf last week at the Scottish Open, where Justin Rose cemented himself firmly in that bracket of the top players.  2 wins on the trot is something new to the Englishman, so 3 could be stretching it slightly too far.  No denying he is a perfect fit for everything links and should do really well here, but at 14s we are not going anywhere near him.

This photo just sums everything up really.  Sun, cloud, wind, who knows!

This photo just sums everything up really. Sun, cloud, wind, who knows!

The actual course is a 7,312 yard par 72 with 4 par 5s that are so vital to finding a winner – The last time it was held at Hoylake in 2006, Tiger shot a remarkable -14 on those 16 trips to the longer holes and it was a big contribution to his -18 total that won him the trophy by 2 shots from Chris DiMarco.

His game plan? Tee to green masterclass.  With the weather in everyone’s favour he found 85.71% of fairways (1st in Driving Accuracy for the week) and 80.56% of GIR (1st for GIR.)

We have written a 2nd preview for the tournament, covering all the angles on stats and trends, so if you fancy having a read of that, just click here!

You are going to need a solid and accurate game from tee to green in order to win any Open Championship.  If you do find the hay then it is just as important how you recover, therefore scramblers always seem to do well.

More bunkers have been dotted around the fairways since 06’ and that will make for some more difficult shots, but obviously, as for any major, you have to hole your putts.  Miss tiddlers and you can kiss goodbye to the trophy.

The weather factor is just as crucial for preparation as any course management and at the moment it is raining on the first day, brightening up at the weekend but on Friday there seems to be quite a bit of wind in the afternoon.

How you play through those bad moments where you feel horrendous in varying conditions, will put you close come Sunday.  Much of that relies on what goes on between the ears…

It will be another fantastic tournament, undoubtedly filled with thrills and spills, so let’s just enjoy the ride with those dulcet and angelic sounds of Peter Alliss (Well, for British viewers on BBC anyway!)

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ALSO, Don’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Adam Scott (16/1 Coral) – Coral Markets - British Open

As you will have seen from our 2nd preview, the Aussie ticked every box for us and we are itching to chuck our money on him. Over the past couple of years we have seen the kind of consistency that has quite rightly earned him the spot at the pinnacle of the golfing world.

Needs another Major win to still prove a few doubters Photography by: Scott K. Brown

Needs another Major win to still prove a few doubters
Photography by: Scott K. Brown

After his collapse at the Open back in 2012 many wondered whether Scott would ever recover but that experience helped him and spurred him on to win the Masters as well as a few events in America and back in his native Australia. One thing that can be argued at the World Number 1 is whether he wins enough to be regarded in the ‘Tiger’ bracket. But since his Open demise, Scott has not missed a cut and put 6 trophies in his cabinet. Not the worst form is it…

His game is perfect for links courses. Links tracks not only require accuracy off the tee but a bit of distance too and Adam has both in abundance. When Woods won here in ’06 he treated us to a display of ironplay from the tee box of the highest quality and Scott is one of, if not the, best in the game at doing just that. His swing is faultless and with that consistency combined with the confidence gained over the past couple of years, Scott is a cert to at least contend. And we all know what the headlines will be if he is leading during the final round. Oh, and he finished 8th here in 2006!

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16

 Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 3 2 1 - -

 (3 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform. Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
67th 32nd 4th 4th 77th 27 T8

      Graeme McDowell (33/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)

Has proven his ability on the toughest courses

Has proven his ability on the toughest courses

Now we pick the Northern Irishman this week with a tiny bit of a vested interest.

We went to Paris a couple of weeks back for the French Open and as you can imagine, we were in awe of the way McDowell ground his way to yet another European Tour title. On our travels around the course we did bump into Graeme’s father and after a long chat he told us how well Hoylake sets up for his boy’s game – and this was before McDowell went on to take the trophy! So there’s our bit of pointless inside info for you, but we loved it nonetheless.

His all-round game is one of the best and most consistent on tour and is arguably the best ‘grinder’ out there. If you want someone to get up and down in a pressure situation, McDowell is your man. He boasts a best of T5 at the Open which was back in 2012 and also experienced 4 rounds on this track when it was held here in ’06. 33/1 is great value for someone we feel again, will contend at the very least given his performance in Paris.

Recent Open History 

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T58 T5 MC T23 T34 T19

Links History (Past 18 months) 

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 1 2 1 1

 (4 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
17th 61st 10th 31st 157th 13 MC 

   Zach Johnson (50/1 Various)     

Mr Accuracy will find plenty of fairways this week

Mr Accuracy will find plenty of fairways this week

After a 2nd place at the John Deere last week, a course he adores, Johnson will take that confidence with him to the Open. As with any links track, you need to be accurate off the tee and be able to cope with adverse conditions, something Zach has made a living out of.It’s amazing how the American plays the game given his lack of length off the tee. He has earned a lot of trophies and money picking apart course after course and we’re expecting much of the same when he makes the flight over to England this week.

Many will have forgot about his early season form but he was the hottest player on the planet as we entered 2014. He won back-to-back tournaments and followed that up with another couple of top 10’s. So we’re hoping last week signaled a return to that kind of form. And he ranked 1st in driving accuracy and 12th in putting on his way to that runner-up finish.

Given that he has finished in the top 10 at the previous 2 Opens and has 2 career wins on links tracks, Zach is tremendous value at 50/1.

Recent Open History 

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Links History (Past 18 months) 

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

 (2 wins in career on Links tracks)

 Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
6th 21st 16th 27th 17th 26 MC

   Webb Simpson (80/1 Various)

Lucky fella.

Lucky fella.

The American already has a major under his belt and has had a solid 2014 season, so to be verging on three figure odds, he is good value.

Many people are predicting putting prowess to be the vital factor to whoever wins at Hoylake and in Webb Simpson, we have one of the best putters in the game.

Tracks that require nous off the tee and course management, he does well on. And he comes to Liverpool with 2 top 3 finishes in his last 4 starts. He needs to start putting in a few more performances on the biggest stage to back up his US Open win and coming to Hoylake in the form he is in means there is no better time to do so.

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T64 DNP T16 DNP DNP DNP

Links History (Past 18 months) 

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 2 2 3 2 1

(0 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
72nd 68th 21st 13th 60th 4 DNP

 Shane Lowry (125/1 Stan James)

He'll hopefully have the trophy in the passenger seat come sunday

He’ll hopefully have the trophy in the passenger seat come sunday

We saw enough of the Irishman at the Scottish Open to suggest that he could be in for a career-defining week.

His game is suited to links courses and the fact both of his European Tour titles have come on the aforementioned coastal tracks proves this point. Both of his highest finishes in majors have come also come at the Open.

Shane is arguably playing the best golf he has for a couple of years after his T4 in Scotland following his runner-up finish to McIlroy a few weeks ago at the BMW PGA. Last week he ranked 10th driving accuracy and distance showing he has that all important precision and length off the tee whilst 3rd putts per GIR shows he was getting the job done on the greens too. And he actually narrowly missed quite a  few putts in the final round, so who knows what would have happened if they had dropped.

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 DNP DNP T37 DNP DNP

Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 3 1 2 7 4

(2 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
42nd 88th 92nd - - 2 DNP

Robert Karlsson (90/1 Stan James)  

Karlsson

In stunning form

Not for a couple of years have we really seen the Swede play as well as he is now and with the way he sets up, he is a perfect fit for Hoylake.

Such was his lack of form, it was not till the French Open where he finished 4th did he earn a spot at this week’s course that saw him finish 35th on back in 2006.

Karlsson, if you didn’t know, has 11 European Tour wins to his name and won the ‘Race to Dubai’ equivalent in 2008. The same year saw him finish T8 Masters, T4 US Open and T7 at the Open highlighting the Swede’s pedigree.

His play over the past couple of months has led us to draw comparisons to his dominant days on the tour after finishing in the top 10 in 4 of his last 6 starts. And like our previous pick McDowell, has 4 career titles on links tracks. Watch out for his ironplay this week and if the putter gets going, he will be very dangerous.

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T64 DNP T16 DNP DNP DNP

 Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- - 2 1 1 1

(4 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
117th 129th 24th - - 12 T35


Outside Bets

Bet£5_get£20__120x60   Ryan Moore (150/1 Coral)

Watch out for his attire this week

Watch out for his attire this week

The American is one of those players from the PGA Tour that despite amassing 3 career titles over there, still finds himself at very high odds when the big tournaments come around. With only 2 top 10’s in majors to date, you can almost understand why.

Moore is one of the most accurate players off the tee in the game ranking 15th on the PGA Tour. If he finds plenty of fairways, with the ability he has with the irons, he could contend. He already has a win in the 13/14 season at the CIMB Classic, beating Gary Woodland in a play-off and his last two finishes have been 7th and 5th. The confidence will be flowing through his veins coming to the Open. Once again for a player of his stature, this is great value. Also possesses very impressive recent form on links courses and only 1 missed cut.

Recent Open History 

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 DNP T28 MC DNP DNP

Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 1 2 2 1 1

(0 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
15th 11th 35th 9th 53rd 3 DNP

   Danny Willett (150/1 Various)

Has everything in his locker for links courses

Has everything in his locker for links courses

A bit like Robert Karlsson, the Englishman Willett has come up on the rails over the past couple of months and forced himself into our Hoylake plans. Despite only finishing T45 at the US Open, that was where he really asserted himself on our radar after 3 superb rounds of golf which were slightly overshadowed by a 3rd round 78.

Since the previous major he has pushed on and finished 3rd, 8th and last week 11th. So his game is right there at the moment. His ability off the tee was most impressive for us in Scotland where he managed to combine accuracy with a bit of length too. Of course, being an Englishman means he will feel at home with the adverse conditions and it is a British player such as Danny with his links ability that could really surprise a lot of people.

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T15 DNP MC DNP DNP DNP

Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 1 2 1 5 4

(0 wins in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
57th 11th 7th - - 1 DNP

   Stephen Gallacher (80/1 Ladbrokes)

Stevie could have the chance to get his favourite beanie on once again!

Stevie could have the chance to get his favourite beanie on once again!

Last but not least is one of our most admired golfers and iron guru, Mr Gallacher. His form and pedigree on the European Tour can never be questioned with 3 career wins to his name. And the Scot has tried and succeeded in bringing consistency to his game over the past few months to assert himself as one of the best players in Europe.

With 3 top 5’s in his last 6 starts he has done this but whether he can take this play onto the biggest stages in golf remains to be seen.

His best major finish was T18 at the 2010 PGA Championship closely followed by  T21 at last year’s Open. With the amount of links tracks he plays on the Tour accompanied by his Scottish upbringing, Stephen should feel right at home this week.

Recent Open History 

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T21 DNP T57 T23 DNP DNP

Links History (Past 18 months)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 5 - 1 5 5

(1 win in career on Links tracks)

Relevant stats to Open trends

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
121st 39th 29th - - 4 DNP

Coral Sports

The Open 2014 Preview 2

the open www.coral.co.uk
We promised another preview for this years Open Championship before our main one and we would never go back on our word!

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 3RD AND FINAL PREVIEW WITH ALL OUR PICKS AND SELECTIONS!!

Our 1st preview looked into everything links.  We detailed recent history on those seaside tracks and courses that have a similar feel, pinpointing a few players who have consistent finishes.  Please do have a read to help gauge more about where you should be putting your hard earned money!

As for this 2nd write-up we have looked into the trends and stats that are required to combat Hoylake and win on a links course.  Every Open Championship track has different attributes, there’s no denying that, but on the whole their similarities in terms of a classical links test make it worthwhile to look into previous years.
What trends and stats we will be looking into? 

  • Only Ben Curtis (2003) has won on debut since 1975
  • Tiger hit 85.71% of fairways (1st) and 80.56% GIR (2nd) to win in 2006 (when it was last held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake) Therefore, we will be looking at top 75 for driving accuracy and GIR (Last 5 winners were also all inside the top 75 for GIR before the tournament)
  • Last 5 winners were inside the top 50 for scoring average – (We will look at the top 75)
  • Only 5 managed to finish Par 4s in red numbers in 2006 – Therefore we are looking at around the top 75 for par 4 performance (PGA TOUR ONLY)
  • 4 par 5’s – Tiger shot -14 and Carl Pettersson shot -16 to finish T8 – Therefore we are looking at around the top 75 par 5 performance (PGA TOUR ONLY)
  • Since 1980, every winner barring Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie (1999), Justin Leonard (1997) have won at least 7 professional titles before winning The Open.
  • Barring Jon Daly (1995) and Ben Curtis, the past 20 champions have either won on the PGA or European Tour or finished in the top 10 at one of the two previous majors.
  • 64% of winners over the last 15 years played the course at least once before winning.
  • Only Ben Curtis in the last decade didn’t have at least 8 years experience as a pro before winning.
  • Average age of the last 10 winners is 33.8 but in the past 5 years that has increased to 38.

So, what we are going to do, similar to our Masters previews, is break down the majority of the field and see which players, if any, are left by fitting all these stats and trends.  The names you see under each title have not made that respective category and will not be considered further.

Only Ben Curtis (2003) has won on debut since 1975

Ben Curtis winning The Open. That was a genuine shock.  Photo by Nicolas Asfouri, GettyImages

Ben Curtis winning The Open. That was a genuine shock. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri, GettyImages

Patrick Reed, Brendon Todd, Chris Kirk, Chris Stroud, Brendon De Jonge, Cameron Tringale, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Every, Ben Martin, Erik Compton, Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, Shawn Stefani, Billy Hurley, Roberto Castro, Kristoffer Broberg

Top 75 in Driving Accuracy

PGA Tour -  Tiger Woods,Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Hideki Matsuyama, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Paul Casey, Angel Cabrera, Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Gary Woodland, Jonas Blixt, Padraig Harrington, Harris English, Marc Leishman, Charley Hoffman, JB Holmes, Ryo Ishikawa, Brooks Koepka, Freddie Jacobson, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Stewart Cink, Ryan Palmer, Matt Jones, Russell Henley, Scott Stallings, Jon Daly, George McNeill

European Tour -  Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Mikko Ilonen, Victor Dubuisson, Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero, Robert Karlsson, Stephen Gallacher, Thongchai Jaidee, Padraig Harrington, Branden Grace, Shane Lowry, Chris Wood, George Coetzee, Michael Hoey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Richard Sterne, Thorbjorn Olesen, Brooks Koepka, Pablo Larrazabal, Paul Lawrie, David Howell, Darren Clarke, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Peter Uihlein, Brett Rumford, Victor Riu

Top 75 Greens In Regulation

PGA Tour - Jason Day, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Billy Horschel, John Senden, KJ Choi, Kevin Streelman

European Tour - Miguel Angel Jimenez

Top 75 Scoring Average  

PGA Tour - Nick Watney, Boo Weekley 

European Tour  - Bernd Wiesberger

Top 75 Par 4 Performance

Kevin Stadler

Top 75 Par 5 Performance

Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia

At least 7 professional titles before winning The Open

Francesco Molinari, Matthew Baldwin, Oliver Fisher, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Chris Stroud

At least a win on the PGA Tour or European Tour this season OR a top 10 at The Masters or US Open

Edoardo Molinari, Grégory Bourdy

64% of winners over the last 15 years played the course at least once before winning

Matt Kuchar

Only Ben Curtis in the last decade didn’t have at least 8 years experience as a pro before winning – With the average age of 33.8 as well.

-

Believe it or not, after all that we have got 2 names that have survived.  Two players who are certainly no mugs and unsurprisingly have a cracking links history.
www.coral.co.uk


Zach Johnson (50/1 Ladbrokes)

A Major champion already, how about one more then?

A Major champion already, how about one more then? Photo by Peter Casey

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Links History in the past 2 years

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

Stats

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform. Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
6th 30th 30th T45 T24 26 MC

Now 38, Zach Johnson has already had a remarkable career.  He has a major title in his locker (the 2007 Masters) and is one of the most consistent performers on tour.  Even with everything he’s achieved he has seemed to have found an extra gear again in the past year or so and to think you can get him at 50/1.  Very intriguing.

He had an amazing start to the season, winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and recording 6 top 10s.  Yes, he hasn’t been finding the 1st page of leaderboards in the past month, but at the time of writing he is just a couple of shots behind the lead at the John Deere Classic, which will give him plenty of confidence.

He is one of those players who suits the challenges of links golf.  He has consecutive top 10s in the Open and his ability to manufacture ball flight and push the ball exactly how he wants makes him a prime candidate every year.  His tee to green efficiencies and short game prowess is a really, really dangerous combination.

Sports Welcome Bonus 120x60

 

Adam Scott (18/1 Coral BEST PRICE)

 

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Recent Open History

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16

Links History in the past 2 years

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 3 2 1 - -

Stats

Driving Accuracy GIR Scoring Average Par 4 Perform. Par 5 Perform. Pro Titles 2006 Open Finish
63rd 31st 4th T2 T67 27 T8

The number one golfer in the world and the most consistent player of the past 2 years or so.  If anything, since that horrendous collapse at Royal Lytham & St.Annes in 2012 to finish one shot behind Ernie Els after a 75 final day score.  He was destined for great things, no doubt, but losing that trophy seemed to really kick-start his assault to the golfing summit.  Let’s just put this into perspective.  Here is his form since that Open Championship.

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
6 7 8 9 7 -

What an unbelievable return that is, it is no wonder he is now looking down at the rest of the world in the rankings.  It is madness how consistent that is and a lot of those top 10/5/wins are in very big tournaments as well.  Well, he rarely plays in anything but the biggest tournaments.  As for his links game, you cannot ask for anything more.  A swing that will never deviate and his abilities to manoeuvre the ball with ease make him one of the best links players.  3 of his European Tour wins have come on very traditional links tracks and his Open record is clearly impressive.  The fact he finished T8 here in 2008 as well, only add to his appeal.

What a player.

Honourable Mentions 

Graeme McDowell (33/1 Coral BEST PRICE) and Henrik Stenson (16/1 Coral, WillHill, Ladbrokes)

No need for introductions with either of these top players.  Gmac is a proven links guru and the only category he failed to tick was the par 5 performance.  BUT you have to remember this is only on the PGA Tour and he is a regular both sides of the pond.  He plays the longer holes with a plotting head because of his lack of length.  He has played here before (T61) and is in fantastic rhythm following his win in Paris a few weeks ago.

Henrik Stenson is one of the hardest workers in the game. He completely went off the boil for a couple of years, but toiled and toiled and toiled, to eventually find his rhythm and do the unthinkable – win the FedEx and Race To Dubai in the same season.  Madness.  He is such a long hitter and when he is straight, he can be untouchable.  His major form in recent seasons is outstanding as well – a worst finish of T21 in the past 6 years, which includes 3 top 5s.  He will be a top challenger once again this year.

Luke Donald (50/1 Coral BEST PRICE), Matt Kuchar (40/1 Ladbrokes), Justin Rose (12/1 WillHill) and Jim Furyk (66/1 Ladbrokes) all ticked many of the categories, but didn’t quite make it.

That’s it for our 2nd preview, as we say our final write-up with all our selections will be on the site tomorrow night (GMT).  Happy World Cup Final Day. 

The Open 2014 Preview One

Coral Sports

the open

Date: 17th – 20th July

Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Merseyside.

Course: Par 73, 7,350 yards.

Current Champion: Phil Mickelson

Past 6 winners –

2013: Phil Mickelson

2012: Ernie Els

2011: Darren Clarke

2010: Louis Oosthuizen

2009: Stewart Cink

2008: Padraig Harrington

Past 3 winners at Royal Liverpool –

2006: Tiger Woods

1967: Roberto De Vicenzo

1956: Peter Thomson
Coral Sports

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 3RD AND FINAL PREVIEW HERE, WITH ALL OUR TIPS, PICKS AND HOPEFUL WINNERS!!!

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 2ND PREVIEW HERE – ALL ABOUT STATS AND TRENDS OF THE OPEN!!

Well, well, well.  Here we go!  Just two weeks away from the 3rd major of the season as the golfing world awaits for the games very best to master the swirling winds and weather of traditional seaside courses in Britain.  This year we are going to be in for a treat at Hoylake where the Royal Liverpool Golf Club will play host on the west north coast of England.

Tiger Woods won here back in 2006 with a record total of -18 and scoring on the whole was low.  BUT do not expect it to be the same this year because the course has changed slightly and conditions will be completely different.  In 2006 the sun shone and the fairways were rock hard, giving it a completely different feel to what the hosts would have wanted.

The course will play at 7,312 yards and the par 72 is a Harry Colt design that will require the classic tee to green ability we all would expect from a links track.

This photo just sums everything up really.  Sun, cloud, wind, who knows!

This photo just sums everything up really. Sun, cloud, wind, who knows! Photo Courtesy of Royal-Liverpool-golf.com

Tiger finished 1st for driving accuracy and 2nd for GIR, so that tells the whole story.  But it is also important to look at those players who are comfortable on links courses and have the ability to manage their game in conditions that will constantly change throughout the week.

Therefore, in our 1st preview of 3 that we will be producing for The Open, we have taken a look at recent links history and what sort of players have kept performing on these sort of tracks.

Some of the courses are by no means an outright, obvious links track, but they all have that ‘seaside’ feel and bunkers/greens that you often find on a links course.  It does make for some interesting reading and the players who have been highlighted include some you would not expect.

Enjoy for now and our 2nd preview is OUT NOW, so if you are interested in everything you need to know about stats and trends from previous Open tournaments, then this is for you!

European Tour

As you would expect, there are more links-esque courses on the European Tour than Stateside and we have researched tournaments from the past year or so -

2014 Africa Open – East London Golf Club (Links and Parkland)  - Thomas Aiken

2014 Tshwane Open – Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate (Links and Parkland) – Ross Fisher

2014 Trophee Hassan II – Golf du Palais Royal (Links) – Alejandro Cañizares

2014 Madeira Islands Open – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (Links-esque in the mountains) – Daniel Brooks

2014 Nordea Masters – PGA National (Links feel) – Thongchai Jaidee

2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) - Phil Mickelson

2013 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles – The Gleneagles Hotel (Classic Links feel) - Tommy Fleetwood

2013 KLM Open – Kennemer Golf & Country Club (Links feel) - Joost Luiten

2013 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) - Grégory Bourdy

2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – David Howell

2013 Portugal Masters - Oceânico Victoria Golf Course (Classic Links) – David Lynn

2013 Irish Open – Carton House Golf Course (links feels) – Paul Casey

2012 Irish Open – Royal Portrush Golf Club (Classic Links) - Jamie Donaldson

2012 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) - Thongchai Jaidee

2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) – Jeev Milkha Singh

2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – Branden Grace

2013 The Open – Muirfield (Classic Links feel) - Phil Mickelson

2012 The Open – Royal Lytham & St.Annes (Classic Links) - Ernie Els

We have obviously missed out a few of the same tournaments in 2012, but we felt those real links tests were important, so we added them in alongside the last 2 Open Championships.  But what have we read into all of that?

Well, 7 of those 18 winners were British, which is more than any other nation and shows that traditionally, they have a greater liking for those swirling conditions.  But in all of these tournaments, it has been crucial to be consistent tee to green.

Driving accuracy and GIR stats will be vital and usually the better putters for the week find themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

Of the players who have already qualified (there are 4 spots available this week. 3 at the Scottish Open, 1 at the John Deere Classic.) we have looked at those who have a good record at these links venues.

Pablo Larrazabal (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 1 2 2 3 6

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T30 DNP MC T70
Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year.  You won't find him in the water at Hoylake though..

Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year. You won’t find him in the water at Hoylake though.. Photo courtesy of Associated Press

The mercurial Spaniard is one of those players that you have to back when he is feeling good, otherwise you have no chance.  He is certainly temperamental, but when his game is on he can be outstanding.  He has the ability to move the ball how he wants and adapt his game in testing conditions, which is why he could be an interesting outsider.  It is no surprise to see his good record on links tracks.

Stephen Gallacher (100/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 4 - 1 5 5

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T21 DNP T57 T23 DNP DNP

The Scot has really found his true standing in the past couple of years.  He is widely considered as one of the best iron players in Europe and his ability to shape the ball accurately from tee to green stands him in good stead on links tracks.  He lost in a playoff at the Nordea Masters this year and the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2013, whilst his first European Tour win came at the now Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2004.  He is a links lover at the end of the day.

Joost Luiten (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 3 - 1 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T63 - - -

The Dutchman won on his home tournament at Kennemer and it is no surprise to see his record on these links courses.  He is unerringly accurate tee to green and has the perfect game for any sort of conditions. He is regularly one of the top players at European Tour events, so it would not surprise us to see him challenging at majors soon.

Jamie Donaldson (66/1 Coral)Coral Sports

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 - 2 - 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T60 DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy.  More kisses please.

Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy. More kisses please. Photo Courtesy of Paul Faith

The Welshman is one of our favourite regulars on Tour and he has the perfect tee to green game for links tracks.  We remember watching him at the Irish Open in 2012, which was his 1st European Tour win and it was a revelation in iron-play golf.  He is one of these late bloomers, but at 38 he has so much experience and everything really seems to be ticking for him now.  That is represented by how much his odds have been slashed, especially after a T14 at Augusta this year.

 

Thongchai Jaidee (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 - - 3 5 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T77 MC MC T13 DNP

The Thai magician has entered his twilight years, but he has been playing some truly outstanding golf in recent months.  Anyone with 17 professional wins to their name must be considered something of a stalwart, but this year has been remarkable.  6 top 10s, a win at the Nordea Masters and he won the 2012 Wales Open.  His tee to green game combined with a superb putting strokes, he is an interesting outsider.

Francesco Molinari (80/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 1 2 1 5 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T9 T39 MC MC T13 DNP

Francesco Molinari went into a horrible lull of form but has this year been playing much better.  He could be a danger with his natural ability and he will have no qualms playing alongside the best the game has to offer.

Honourable Mentions - Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Matthew Baldwin.

PGA Tour

Do bare in mind, most of these courses are not actual links tracks, but have many similarities to what you would perceive to be a links course.

2014 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions – Plantation Course at Kapalua - Zach Johnson

2014 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club - Jimmy Walker

2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Kevin Stadler

2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach - Jimmy Walker

2014 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Matt Kuchar

2014 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Hideki Matsuyama

2013 McGladrey Classic – Seaside Course, Sea Island - Chris Kirk

2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Plantation Course at Kapalua - Dustin Johnson

2013 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club – Russell Henley

2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale - Phil Mickelson

2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach – Brandt Snedeker

2013 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Graeme McDowell

2013 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Matt Kuchar

(And the 2013/2012 Open Championships)Coral Sports

Adam Scott (16/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
- 3 2 1 - -

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16
Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Adam Scott has an outstanding record on links tracks and it is no surprise.  He has arguably the best all-round game in golf and his current number 1 status is certainly deserved.  Winning The Masters last year will have given him plenty of confidence to push on and it is about time he wins on a links track.  He has come so close in the past 2 Open Championships, so do not be surprised to see him win his 2nd major title this year.

Matt Kuchar (40/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 1 5 2 1 -

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T15 T9 MC T27 MC MC

Another top quality player with real links pedigree.  Matt Kuchar has not missed a cut for the past 2 years on any links-esque course and picked up 2 titles in the meantime – The RBC Heritage this year and the Memorial Tournament in 2013.  He has genuine class and continues this trend of iron gurus that this list is undoubtedly and unsurprisingly starting to unravel.  He is one of those top players yet to win a major and whilst his form at Augusta is outstanding, it could be in the tough conditions of an Open track that Kuch finally etches his name into history.

Zach Johnson (80/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Zach Johnson has already proven his major pedigree by winning at Augusta and in what was one of the toughest conditions ever seen at the Masters, he proved his ability to manoeuvre the ball in all sorts of wind.  He has the perfect temperament to deal with links courses and proves that by his form on them in the past 2 years, winning at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this year.  He also has very respectable form at recent Open championships, so if he can rediscover his early-season form, anything could happen.

Dustin Johnson (33/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 2 - 2 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T9 T2 T14 MC DNP
DJ is used to being beside the seaside...

DJ is used to being beside the seaside…

Dustin Johnson is clearly a supremely talented golfer, but he can be frustrating to watch let alone bet on sometimes.  10 professional titles as he enters his 30s is an impressive return and his huge distances off the tee and attacking game, clearly work on links courses.  When he is straight he can be devastating.  Those low drillers completely take out the wind and give him great chances on what are usually shorter courses.  His win came at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last year and we all know his main problem is consistency.  If he is consistent, he is a winner.

 

Chris Kirk (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 - 2 4 1



NEVER PLAYED AT THE OPEN

Chris Kirk is having one of those ‘breakthrough’ seasons, where his top quality golf has not come in spurts, but consistently week in, week out.  He has built upon a solid 2013 and this year is yet to miss a cut.  His straight-hitting game is a perfect fit for links golf and he has a superb short game to tackle any type of greens.  His win came at the McGladrey Classic, but a further 4 top 5 finishes on links tracks is an outrageous return.  He will be making his first appearance at The Open, but he could be one of those surprise Americans to attack the leaderboard.  He has 2 top 30 finishes at this year majors already, so he is certainly no mug.  Keep him on your radar.

Hideki Matsuyama (66/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 1 - - 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 DNP - - - -

It may not be fair to the likes of Brandt Snedeker and Harris English that we include Hideki Matsuyama because they have played in far more links tournaments with a cracking record.  But the reason we have decided to include the Japanese here is because he is just one of those players that has something magical and rare in the game.  To have won 6 professional titles at 22-years old says something in itself, but it’s his highly methodical swing that is so impressive.  It looks like nothing can ever go wrong and it doesn’t change in the heat of battle, as proven by his playoff win this year at the Memorial Tournament.  4 top 35s in his last 5 majors, including 2 top 10s show he is not fazed by superstars and with his incredible tee to green game and ability with the short stick, we can definitely see him up there again this year.

Honourable Mentions - Brandt Snedeker, Harris English, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.

So, there you have it.  We have trawled through those leaderboards and found the best we thought could offer something at this years tournaments, but please do have a look for yourselves!  Our second preview will be up on the site later this week, so do come back to check it out before the weekend!

 

Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open 2014

Scottish OpenPrize Fund – €3,000,000

Winner’s Share – €627,020

Firstly, we have to apologise for the lateness of the preview. After a long few days in Paris watching the Open De France, it’s taken a while to steady ship!

It was a drama-filled 4 days in the French capital which saw the highs and lows of all of our picks. We were just inches away from Jamie Donaldson (our number 1 pick) as his ball sailed into the water on 16. But he still managed to grab a place and we also chucked a bit on McDowell during the 2nd round after chatting with his dad! All in all, a crazy adventure.

But onto Scotland and what a week we have in store! The field is incredible and does make us wonder why we didn’t go to that instead. Mickelson, McIlroy, Rose, Donald, Fowler just to name a few have made the trip to Aberdeen to hone their game ready for the year’s 3rd major.

Your links prowess will be tested to the max! (Courtesy of VisitScotland)

Your links prowess will be tested to the max!
(Courtesy of VisitScotland)

With any links track, you know what you will be expecting. The winds will be up and there will be bunkers-galore strategically placed on every fairway and green. Precision off the tee and an inch-perfect short game is needed to tackle what is an historic course. The Royal Aberdeen, Balgownie Links course is a par 71 and will be playing just under 6,900 yards and is somewhere that needs plenty of links experience to conquer. The weather reports are mixed but expect more drizzle than a Jamie Oliver salad. With our Open Preview already live (here) we have a few names floating around that have a very tasty links record.

Paul Casey (40/1 Coral)

He's back.

He’s back.

For the past 6 months we have backed Casey from time to time and we have forever talked about his injury woes and gradual rise back to the top. Well now he is here to stay and we think this is the week to put his name officially back on the global radar.

Casey already has 2 wins in Scotland to his name (2001 Scottish PGA and 2006 Johnnie Walker) and has a game that is perfectly suited to links golf. He is one of the best drivers of the ball in the game and has the ability to maneuver it off the tee in the much anticipated adverse conditions. He has yet to record a top 10 in a few months now but has been steadily building up to a big performance.

He contended for a large part of the US Open before dropping off towards the latter stages and his win in Ireland last year displayed all of the qualities that will be needed for Royal Aberdeen. Considering the field that is teeing it up, this will be classed as a big win and the Englishman is due one. Great value.

Robert Karlsson (50/1 Coral)

We watched the Swede closely last week and we were very impressed with the way he played.  He ranked 2nd in putts per round and secured a spot at next week’s Open, so he will be brimming with confidence.

With 3 top 10’s in his last 5 starts, you can argue Karlsson is back to the sort of form that has won him 11 titles on the tour! His ironplay and short game in particular mean he is the ideal links player. 2 of his 5 top 10 major finishes have come at the Open.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello (66/1 William Hill)

Let's get that winning feeling back again Rafa

Let’s get that winning feeling back again Rafa

Everything about the Spaniard at last week’s French Open was working well, except for the short stick.  It means with a few hours on some Scottish putting greens beforehand and he will be prepped to secure his 3rd European Tour title.

2014 has been a much more consistent year for RCB after a somewhat disappointing 2013. And after he finished 2nd two weeks back, he ranked 4th driving accuracy and GIR and 20th driving distance in Paris. He has a very respectable links track record and has even sneaked onto our list of players we fancy for next week. If he gets it going on the greens, he will contend.

Ryan Palmer (80/1 Coral)

Can he transfer his from from America onto Scottish soil?

Can he transfer his from from America onto Scottish soil?

A player we hold in high regard considering his PGA Tour pedigree. If he were more of a regular on the European Tour we would have seen these odds significantly shaved.

Having only played at the British Open, Palmer’s ability on foreign soil is obviously yet to be tested. In America he ranks 24th GIR, 31st total driving and 7th rough proximity which suggests to us he has the game to prosper on links tracks. He will feel more comfortable with a few of his PGA Tour buddies following him over and we think he has a big chance.

Russell Knox (80/1 William Hill)

If you are followers of the PGA Tour you will have been keeping an eye on Scotsman Knox. He has regularly topped many of the statistic columns over in America and narrowly lost out alongside Rory McIlroy to Russell Henley in a play-off a few months back.

So given his success over in America, something not often achieved by British players over there, he will be absolutely buzzing to come to his national tournament. 80/1 for us is some of the best value you will find out there and we are all over it like a cheap suit. Ranks 39th in the FedEx, 23rd driving accuracy, 18th GIR and 20th scrambling. Perfect for links courses!

Michael Hoey (75/1 Bet365)

Knows how to get the job done!

Knows how to get the job done!

Another guy who we watched closely whilst in Paris and someone who loves it on links courses. His game seems to step it up a level whenever the conditions turn sour and we want some of that this week. Eventually finished outright 7th last week having been paired with McDowell in the final round and was also 6th GIR and 7th putts per GIR for the week. Has more than one win on links or links-style courses one of which was in Scotland back in 2011. He has been playing really well for nearly 2 months now and it is surely culminating to a big performance.

Outside Bets

Nicolas Colsaerts (150/1 Stan James) Scott Jamieson (250/1 Bet365) Magnus A Carlsson (200/1 Various)

Colsaerts does what he wants on the course

Driving it straight. Ominous.

The Belgian Bomber looked steady over in France and interestingly combined his outrageous length off the tee with accuracy. If he can control that in Scotland he will make the course a lot easier given the shortness of the track. He was also 32nd GIR and finished T8 last year in Scotland. Jamieson, on home soil, will be quietly confident after a promising display over in France. Once again, we saw plenty of him and his ironplay in particular will mean he could certainly challenge in his home event. Also ranked 2nd putts per round in France. Final pick for the week is Swede Magnus Carlsson. His T12 finish in Paris went under the radar somewhat and ranks 1st in GIR on the European Tour. After his 6th a couple of weeks back in Ireland, he is coming into this event with great form and confidence.

US Senior Open Championship 2014

We’ve also had a quick dabble on Joe Durant (20/1 Various) for this tournament. He was all over the stats when we looked into them and finished T11 last week at the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour.

John Deere Classic 2014

As usual with the week before The Open, not many players take up a spot on the PGA Tour, in order to properly prepare for what will be a completely different challenge compared  to recent weeks Stateside.

So, for once, the field is far superior for The Scottish Open with several PGA regulars making the trip over, including Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker.  Do check out our preview here!

But, young starlet Jordan Spieth and stalwarts Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson will be teeing it up at the John Deere Classic, understandably the clear favourites, as the latter two look to continue their outstanding history on the TPC Deere Run track.

TPC Deere Run. Stupid name, clever course, easy scoring.

TPC Deere Run. Stupid name, clever course, easy scoring.

It has hosted the tournament since 2000 and primarily, in order to win here you will need to shoot low.

The 7,268 yard, par 71 track regularly finds itself in the top 10 for easiest courses during a calendar year (36th out of 43 in 2013), therefore birdies and attacking pins are an absolute must.

The 78 bunkers and minimal water hazards will provide slight resistance, but in all honesty, if you are not finding birdies here, you will have no chance.  It will require clever course management, so you are able to attack pins, make those putts and avoid bogeys – you can certainly see that by the list of previous winners.

2013 – Jordan Spieth

2012 – Zach Johnson

2011, 2010, 2009 – Steve Stricker

2008 – Kenny Perry

2007 – Jonathan Byrd

2006 – John Senden

Those are players who traditionally hit it straight but will tactically work their way around courses and keep plundering those birdies.  We have really discussed at length whether we should take any of the top 3 in the market, but decided against it, in order to try and find some top quality value.

Brendon De Jonge (40/1 various)

The big man loves a birdie

The big man loves a birdie

We have been plumping for Brendon De Jonge quite regularly in recent times and there is no doubting it is coming to crunch time,

He has not had the greatest of seasons considering his ability, but he has been so consistent for the last 8 tournaments, not missing a cut, shooting at least one outrageous round then eventually trudging to the finishing line.  If he could only put together another round or 2 of the sort of quality he has shown he can produce, then this is the sort of tournament he could walk away with.

Last week he was above 70% for both driving accuracy and GIR and if he can reproduce that and get his putter going, he will find himself challenging on a course he has played well at before.

Two T7 finishes in a row in 2011 and 2010 will certainly help his confidence. He lies T28 for sub par rounds, which proves he can shoot low, let’s just hope he does for all 4 days.

Billy Hurley III (55/1 BetVictor)

Billy Hurley III has found some form in recent months as he chases his first victory on the PGA Tour.  He first properly came to our attention with a solo 5th placed finish at the Honda Classic, where he shot 3 wonderful rounds in the 60s to finish.

But since the Wells Fargo Championship where he missed the cut in early May, his worst finish is T57, but he head recorded 2 top 10s in a row as he prepares for a course that should suit his eye.

He finished T8 at the Quicken Loans National and T4 last week, where in some ways he would have performed better had he not shot a poor 73 on the final day.

If he can drive as well as he did at the Greenbrier last week (over 80%), he will give himself a chance because he will be able to attack pins and try to shoot low – which he proved with a 63 on the Friday.

The fact he finished T8 here a few years back proves he could be perfect for the challenge and if he produces the same golf he has managed to recently, he will be up there come Sunday.

Jerry Kelly (100/1 various)

Raw passion from Kelly!

Raw passion from Kelly!

Jerry Kelly is entering the final few years before he is eligible to join the Senior Tour and has been a regular on many a leaderboard, traditionally on courses that require a thinking head.

Whilst this is by no means a complete strategist track, in order to find those birdies, you must use your armoury wisely and there is none better than Kelly for working out a courses weak links.

He does enjoy shooting low, his 3 wins on Tour have been -14 twice and -19 and barring his T6 at the Valero where he shot -6, his other 4 top 13s were all scores of at least -15.

He shot a couple of rounds in the 60s at his last outing at the Travelers, but the two sandwiched in between meant he couldn’t break the top 30.  He is your typical tee to green guru, who will rarely waiver from the fairways, but a lot of his week will depend on how he applies himself on the greens.

He finished T4 here last year, just one shot behind Spieth and he went into that final round with every chance of victory, so his -3 should have perhaps been more.  Let’s hope it is this week.

Kyle Stanley (150/1 various)

Stanley_large

Kyle Stanley has had a shocking season considering how much talent he has and the promise he was showing.  At the end of the day Nike decided to take the plunge and sign him to their roster and they don’t just sign anyone.

He is coming onto a course where he nearly recorded his first victory back in 2011, but Stricker birdied the last to finish one shot clear.  He did go on to win the Waste Management a year later, but he has failed to really push on as we all thought he would.

Then in 2014, he has not recorded one top 10, but we thought there was a bit of promise last week in his T35 finish.  He shot a 68 and 66 in between two 71s and for the 4 days, he was 11th for strokes gained putting, which is pretty much what has been letting him down.

He is known as a straight, long hitter, who always has the confidence of attacking greens (17th going for the green, T55 GIR) and if he can putt like he did last week then this could be an interesting return for Stanley.

Jason Bohn (100/1 BetFred)

Bohn voyage to Jason as he attempts to get that win this week.

Bohn voyage to Jason as he attempts to get that win this week.

Jason Bohn caught everyones eye last week when he was T2 after the first round, shooting a marvellous 65.  He proved he can shoot low and to finish T11 was a respectable end.

He has recorded a couple of top 10s this year and considering how consistent he is on the greens, he has the ability to hole putts for fun.  22nd for strokes gained putting prove how he can play and if he attack those pins like we have seen him do in the past (T22 for proximity to the hole) he really could find many birdies.

He has played here many times before without finding a top 10, but he rarely missed the cut and has never dropped outside the top 39.

Heath Slocum (200/1 various)

Quick mention for Heath Slocum, whose course form and ability warrant the inclusion.  He finished T3 here in 2006, 3 shots behind Senden, but went into the weekend with every chance of victory.  By no means did he play badly either, he just lost to the better player on the day.  In 2007 he finished T6 after a 65 on the Sunday propelled him up the leaderboard and all in all, he has proved how he can attack this course which suits his eye.

He hasn’t missed a cut in 5 outings, but not been able to put together 4 amazing rounds, do not be surprised if he does this week.

Alstom Open de France 2014

One of our favourite tournaments of the calendar year has finally arrived!

AND in a mad turn of spontaneity, DownThe18th are actually GOING to Paris this week to watch all 4 days of action.  The excitement is beyond extreme and we will be giving all sorts of ridiculous updates and photos via our twitter  - @downthe18th and Instagram - http://instagram.com/downthe18th

So, especially after our cracking week with Fabrizio Zanotti and Shawn Stefani bringing us healthy returns and now that we are going to be watching our players at Le Golf National, we have to be 300% confident in our players!

The course is one of the very finest in France and will be hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup, which just proves what sort of track we are talking about here.

It is hard work finding birdies on the 7,331 yard par 71 course because so much depends on how you adapt to the varying tee shots and approach shots you have to face.  It is of great importance to find the fairway so you can give yourself a chance, but the water hazards are a historic signature.

Le Golf National is one of the most incredible courses on the European Tour and we will be there!

Le Golf National is one of the most incredible courses on the European Tour and we will be there!

There is the chance of finding the drink on 1, 2, 13, 15, 16 and 18, which always makes for an interesting closing barrage – whoever handles it best will come out as the victor.  There are plenty of elevated seating positions (we will be trying to find those vantage points ourselves!) and it does have this stadium feel to the place.  It truly is a magnificent venue and it is no surprise the greatest matchplay tournament in the world will be held here.

The links style bunkers should be avoided as well, because they are notoriously difficult to evade, but if you are not on your game around the greens, you will have no chance.

There are some criminality amongst the bookmakers circle this week and we are shocked at certain prices, BUT keep the faith, we certainly will.

Jamie Donaldson (25/1 various)

What a poser and what a player

What a poser and what a player

Jamie Donaldson is a talent that at 38, has finally found his true standing amongst the top players in the world.  He is currently ranked 33rd and after some of his performances in big tournaments over recent months, he can certainly go even further.

He now has 2 top 10s in WGC events and a T14 at The Masters, whilst he shot rounds in the mid 60s at the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational which is no easy feat on difficult courses.

Therefore, he was firmly fixed in our minds for another difficult but rewarding track over here in Paris.  Especially after a fine performance in Germany last week where he finished T5.

He was ultra consistent across all parts of his game over the 4 days and whilst we should come to expect this by now, it gave us extra confidence to back him.

He has played here many times before but it wasn’t until last year that he put everything together and finished T6.  It tied in with his real upward spiral in form and with the confidence of everything he is achieving at the moment, a3rd win in 3 years would really cement his name at the top of European golf.

Grégory Bourdy (55/1 BetFred)

Enjoying his champagne... Courtesy of GettyImages

Enjoying his champagne…
Courtesy of GettyImages

Grégory Bourdy is our local boy for this week and although he faces stiff competition from his rival French exports, we have every faith that he will be contending come the weekend.

With 8 professional wins to his name, the Frenchman is a prodigious talent, but at times he can struggle to put together a sequence of top quality performances.  Interestingly, 4 of those wins came on courses that have a links sort of feel and with the water and links-esque bunkers, he should be able to cope with the demands of Le Golf National.

At the Irish Open a couple of weeks back, he finished a respectable T8 after a couple of poor outings and he showed positive signs of rhythm with his swing.  He never dropped outside the top 26 for accuracy off the tee all week and on 3 of the 4 days found himself inside the top 15 for GIR.  That is exactly what he does – find those greens regularly.  What was even more positive was how he putted on the weekend.  He was able to hole a few putts, hence his climb up the leaderboard and if he can do that here, he will be in with a great shout.

The positive vibes he will get around the course will be monumental and his knowledge of the track will stand him in great stead.  He has finished T6 here before and you may see us donning a French flag on the 18th green this Sunday…

Richard Green (66/1 various)

The first of Richard Greens’ European titles came so long ago that Greg Norman was runner up to him.  A fresh faced 26-year old who had only been on the tour for 1 year was tipped for great things, especially with the irony that his compatriot and legend of the game played second fiddle that weekend back in 97′.

17 years on and it hasn’t been easy being Green.  Adding only a couple of titles, he hasn’t lived up to his billing but we have all been treated to a sort of renaissance in recent months, with some superb performances.  He nearly won in Spain, eventually losing out in a playoff to another renaissance loving Miguel Angel Jimenez, but it was the a quality tee to green performance that made him stand out.  Catalunya is a notoriously difficult course and if he can play that well there, there is no reason he can’t show his skills here once again.

It helped after last week where he finished T12 in more of a birdie-fest, so it shows his capabilities on different courses.  The final 3 days he was incredible from tee to green – not dropping outside the top 16 for either category.  His confidence should be booming and now he is coming onto a course where he has been outstanding in the past.

6 top 11s in his past 9 outings here is an impressive return and if he can play anything like he has been, then he will surely do well on a track that has seen him perform at his very best.

When his putting is on form then he is highly dangerous.  Put it together and you will see him challenging for sure.

Anders Hansen (50/1 various)

Cracking smile.

Cracking smile.

When you need a guru of hitting the ball straight and consistently, you rarely need to look much further than Anders Hansen.

The Great Dane surprisingly only has 4 professional wins in his career, but he will be coming here with quite a bit of confidence, having picked up a few competitive results in his last few outings.  He hasn’t excelled since the T2 at Laguna, but a couple of mid 20 finishes, including in Germany last week will give him encouragement going onto a course where he has played very well in the past.

His knowledge of Le Golf National is immense having played here every year for the last decade and he has managed to find 5 top 11s in that time.  His putting wasn’t actually great last week but the greens are completely different in length and grass type, so that doesn’t worry us.  He was typically impressive from tee to green, rarely missing fairway, so at the end of the day if he does that on a course he knows so well, he will be up there at the weekend.

Pádraig Harrington (66/1 various)

A 3-time major champion.  We should’t need to say much more, but many of you will ask why here and why this week?  Pádraig Harrington has a knack for playing his best golf on the tougher courses – just look at his major victories – and we all know what he can do.  When his game is on, he is terrifingly accurate from tee to green.  He is widely regarded as a top quality iron player and we took plenty of confidence after a positive performance in Germany last week.

If it wasn’t for a 71 on the Saturday, he would have been challenging more, but 3 good rounds in the 60s will certainly encourage the Irishman as he comes to a course where he has only played a couple of times, but proved his worth with a 2nd place finish back in 2006.

He had swing changes and it will inevitably take time to work for a 42-year old, but if his game is even half on, then he will have every chance.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (300/1 various) and David Drysdale (300/1 StanJames)

Our 2 ridiculous outsiders this week are Gaganjeet Bhullar and David Drysdale.  The both represent ridiculous odds and after our 3-figure win with Zanotti last week, it feels worth a punt!

Firstly, Bhullar is a player we thought would come to the fore a lot more this season, but is yet to really prove himself.  For a 26-year old, to have 15 professional wins is incredible impressive.  We are all just waiting for him to assert himself on the worldwide stage and although he has never played here, his long tee to green game could have a massive impact.  At the weekend he didn’t drop outside the top 10 in any of the distance, accuracy or GIR stats. That says something!

Secondly David Drysdale.  He consistently finds 80% accuracy in GIR and we all know what this course needs.  He has finished 11th here before and with form that hasn’t excelled, you can certainly see him being one of those sort of ‘randomers’ up there come Sunday.