We are getting ever closer to the end of the golfing season, with the PGA already done and dusted, it leaves just three more tournaments in Europe. A brief trip to Australia and then ‘The Final Series’ which is the European Tour equivalent of the play-offs where a LOT of money will be on offer.
The Alfred Dunhill is a very different event, with it being a pro-am and played across three different courses. The courses are St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links. After the first three rounds, the leading 60 professionals and 20 amateurs will go on to battle it out on the Old Course at St Andrews. Amongst the amateurs will be Hollywood stars such as Andy Garcia and Hugh Grant, although we hope the latter’s golf is better than his acting…
St Andrews also hosted most recently the 2010 and 2005 Open Championship’s. With two of the rounds being played here, it is interesting to see who has performed in the major. Meanwhile Carnoustie hosted the 2007 event Have a look at the leaderboards.
Branden Grace stormed to victory at this last year, but he comes back here a shadow of his former self. Course form is obviously important, but with it being played over different courses and it being a pro-am format, golfers who are striking the ball well at this current moment will ultimately prevail. All your standard links statistics will need to be looked at as well, with driving accuracy and GIR particularly crucial on any links track. And to win this you will need to go low!
All bookmakers are offering 6 places this week as well!
Paul Casey (28/1 StanJames)
One of the very first names that popped into our heads when looking at this tournament was Paul Casey. The Englishman has had an important season for his confidence and maturing ability and when his irons are in full swing – 6th on Tour, there are very few who can rival him.
Admittedly, his form in recent weeks hasn’t been as good recently, but he has still been plugging away. Being the sort of player he is, he needs a good start to find form and once he gets going he is unstoppable.
Due to his all-round natural game, he can play in any conditions and on the courses this week, there could be a change in weather at any moment. Being links-esque tracks, he will fancy himself because he has a great record on the coastal and challenging courses.
He won the Irish Open in tough conditions and Carton House gives the vibes of links, whilst he has 2 titles in Scotland.
Then, you look at his form at this tournament. 4 top 10s in his last 6 outings (including the Open in 2007 at Carnoustie). That proves how well he can go here, especially when you think his lowly world ranking at the time and shocking performances in and around the time.
The Englishman will want to assert himself further on the Race To Dubai rankings because he has now slipped to 29th, so what better way than winning at a place where you have had success at before?
Stephen Gallacher (35/1 Bet Victor)
As we have mentioned, form is vital coming into the Alfred Dunhill and the Scot as really impressed us over the last month. His play-off defeat at the Johnnie Walker Championship, a links-esque track, was somewhat overshadowed by his triple bogey in the closing stages, and but for that the title would have been his! But he followed that three weeks ago with another solid 9th at the Omega European Masters. So his form is there for all to see. He comes into this tournament having won it in 2004 and followed with two more top 10 finishes, most recent of which was 5th place last year. He also had a very respectable T23 at the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews.
On the tour this year he is 31st stroke average, 24th driving distance and 27th GIR. For a former champion here, he represents a really solid bet this week.
Peter Uihlein (50/1 Various)
Now we have kind of gone against our recent form notion with the American here. He has missed 5 of his last 7 cuts, but in those other two performances he has carded top 10 finishes. And that really does some him up. An erratic performer but on his day can walk away with any event. But since he burst on the scene earlier in the year, he has proven to be quite a decent links player! His T10 at the Scottish Open included a final round 74, so his credentials on both links tracks and in Scotland itself cannot be questioned.
His one victory this year, a co-sanctioned event The Madeira Islands Open, was also links which means he has what it takes to not only perform on these courses, but win. And call it a hunch, call it what you like, but the American’s do love a pro-am and all the hype that comes with it! Statistically we know Uihlein is one of the biggest hitters on the tour, ranking 5th in distance, which will help him out on tracks that he will not know particularly well. IF he decides to bring his clubs this week, he could go close.
Thorbjørn Olesen (55/1 StanJames)
One of the great young talents in the game, Thorbjørn Olesen has not pushed onto the next level as much as we thought at the beginning of the year. There is a reason Nike signed him onto their roster and its not as if you can blame the ‘new clubs’ because he recorded a T2 in Abu Dhabi and T3 at the Omega Desert Classic in his first few weeks using them.
Since then he has only had 2 top 10s and whilst one of them was at Augusta, it has been a year for growing maturity rather than challenging for tournaments.
So, why do we feel adamant about backing him this week? Because his odds are far too high for a player of his ability and that other top 10 was at Gleneagles last month… He showed some glimpses of his true class in a third round 66, when he holed everything and hit his irons beautifully.
Plus, he is a proven links player who has the ability to manoeuvre and manipulate his ball flight, adapting to any changing weather conditions. Last year he came 2nd here, only 2 shots behind Branden Grace and T9 at The Open, when he properly announced himself to the world.
We have every faith in one of our favourite golfers and there are few who are as exciting as Olesen in full flow. Bring it home.
Steve Webster (100/1 BetVictor)
We remember seeing Steve Webster at this tournament last year when he shot a 64 on the final day to race up the leaderboard. It showed how his ability can match up to a tough links course, so when we saw him plugging away to a T2 in Italy last week, we knew backing him here would be a definite.
He has an outstanding iron game – 7th in the rankings and we just felt he was too interesting to ignore at 3-figure prices.
Looking at his form, he has struggled throughout much of the year, but when he has made the cut, he has generally gone on to finish really high. His lowest being T29 when making the weekend; that includes 5 top 10s, which is really not a bad return.
In all honesty, some of his golf last week was very impressive and if he can continue it into a cheeky time in Scotland, we could all be in for a wonderful treat – he can destroy any player that gets stuck in his web….
Thongchai Jaidee (80/1 Various)
To round off proceedings we could not ignore Mr Consistency from Asia, Thongchai Jaidee. His game is focused around accurate iron play and incredible accuracy around the green, a perfect combination for any links course. He has recorded two top 20 finishes in the last 5 years which is not amazing, but consistent none the less. And his last time out, a T9 at the Omega European Masters gave us the opportunity to catch a glimpse of his magnificent short game. It was an indicator that Jaidee was coming into some sort of form, very similar to 2012 when he won the Handa Wales Open at the back end of the season, a links style track…
One slight concern was his ability to shoot low numbers consistently, but on the Tour this year he does in fact 19th in stroke average, whilst also being 18th in GIR. Watch out for the 43 year old from Thailand.