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