It’s a shame this one runs alongside The Barclays because it really is a tournament with great history and tradition! Although this field does not get the juices flowing as perhaps the one across the pond does. But we have found some tremendous value this week and want to quickly get back to winning ways.
The Gleneagles Hotel PGA Centenary Course in Scotland is where the events will unfold for the week, on the 7,300 yard par 72 track. Although technically not a links course, it will have a lot of links attributes with harsh winds, penal rough and slow greens. And judging by the previous winners (Lawrie, Bjorn, Casey, E.Molinari) it’s a course where a level head is needed combined with good course management and accurate iron play.
Although you would assume accuracy Is vital on these types of courses, the trend over the past couple of years has been distance, not accuracy. Not one of the top seven players last year ranked inside the top 25 for driving accuracy. But only two of those ranked outside the top 25 for driving distance! Whilst in 2011 only 2 of the top 12 ranked outside top 20 in driving distance. GIR will also be very crucial this week and people who have done well here have been high up the list.
Marc Warren (28/1 Various)
Marc will be coming into his home tournament absolutely flying after a great performance at the PGA Championship a couple of weeks ago. He eventually ended up finishing T12 and was the 2nd ranked British player behind Rory McIlroy, so he beat some decent Brits! After a poor start he carded 67, 68 and a final round 69 to beat the likes of Woods, Rose and Mickelson. And that was comfortably his best ever finish in a major, previously was T65 at the 2012 US Open. So Warren is definitely taking his game to the next level.
He has great form in his home country, winning once already at Gleneagles in 2007 and came so close at the 2012 Scottish Open, throwing away a 1 shot advantage with four holes to play. But we have really liked what we have seen this year, and but for a bit of luck could have easily won both the Open De Espana and the BMW PGA. So when you combine his solid play this year with his performance around Oak Hill, he could be a very interesting prospect this week. He also ranks 45th in driving distance and 54th GIR which is impressive on the European Tour. We like him a lot.
Rafael Cabrera Bello (40/1 Various)
We have seen a real resurgence from the Spaniard in recent weeks after what has been a really disappointing 2013. He has been right up there from day 1 in each of the last two majors. He started with a 67 at the Open and a 68 at the PGA but could only turn them into T21 and T29 finishes respectively. Which is still not bad! But taking into account the toughness of the two courses, it gives us great confidence about Rafa coming to the Johnnie Walker where he finished 10th last year. Both of those finishes, just like Warren, were his best ever in majors by some distance. Before that, he also recorded T29 in France, T26 at the BMW and a T5 at the Irish Open. So his form is really quite impressive when you break it down.
Like many a Spaniard before him, Rafa is a great iron player and on his day can tear it up on any course. 26th in GIR for 2013 shows this. He is a player who thrives on form and is certainly coming into a bit of it now!
Brooks Koepka (40/1 Various)
It may appear on the face of it that 40/1 for a player who has only been on the European Tour less than two months is a little low. But we beg to differ. He set the Challenge Tour alight in 2013 claiming 3 victories in just over a month and earning automatic promotion to the European Tour. One of those victories was on Scottish soil, at the Scottish Hyrdo Challenege. So we know he enjoys it in this country! Not to mention that he was paired with Tiger Woods on the Sunday of the USPGA a couple of weeks back. So things have been moving fast and he is one of the brightest talents in the game.
After his promotion, he went onto win his qualification for the Open and also finish T12 at the Scottish Open. You can certainly recognise a trend with the American and this country. So you can realise that Koepka has the perfect game for anything Scotland throws up. And if it’s distance you want, look no further. This guy hits it BIG. He is ranked 1st in driving distance on the European Tour for 2013 hitting it on average 324 yards. With his confidence at an all-time high, anything is possible for the American at Gleneagles this week.
David Horsey (80/1 Various)
Horsey on his day is one of the best links golf players around and he is someone who will go under the radar before a ball is struck this week. We watched a lot of the Englishman in the middle part of the season where he recorded three top 6 finishes in a row, two of which on courses where the wind was blowing and links style golf had to be played. He impressed us and will definitely be looking to do well on British soil. His last two finishes have been T24 at the Scottish Open and T17 in Russia, which suggests another high finish is just around the corner.
His one drawback would be lack of length off the tee, but he makes up for that by ranking 17th in driving accuracy. Combine that with 34th stroke average, 20th putts per GIR and 19th putts per round, we have a very consistent performer. You have to trust us on this one, when the wind gets up, David will come into his own! He already has two European titles to his name, we don’t see why he can’t make it three.
James Morrison (110/1 Stan James)
The Englishman is always one of those players who you often see at the business end of the leaderboard without really getting any recognition. Morrison comes to Gleneagles knowing he has two solid finishes of 19th and 21st the last two times he has played here. He is a player who has worked his way up the golfing ladder after going to college in America, and is now a regular member on the European Tour, and has been for some time. 2013 has not been exciting but just consistent and his best finish of T5 came just a few weeks ago at the M2M Russian Open. This is perfect for coming to Gleneagles, a track he knows really well. Statistically he impresses us, with him 34th driving accuracy and 54th GIR.
Fun fact: He played in the same English youth cricket teams as current England stars Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan…