Winner’s Share: €560,000
Course: St Andrews, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns
With the whole of Europe still buzzing after what was an amazing spectacle at Gleneagles, it’s only fitting that we stay in Scotland for our next installment of European Tour golf.
The Alfred Dunhill is a pro-am format tournament played over 3 different courses. Each player will have a round at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns before the final cut of 60 play a 2nd round at the home of golf, St Andrews.
With the Race to Dubai Final Series just around the corner, the field this week is very impressive. Ryder Cup heroes McIlroy, Kaymer, Dubuisson and Gallacher will be the talk of town. The likes of Schwartzel, Luiten, Casey and Els are just some of the many other top performers we will see this week.
Now with this being played over 3 different courses, it’s foolish to simply look at course form. Notoriously, people who win this have come into the week striking the ball beautifully and haven’t particularly done well in the event in recent times. David Howell had only recorded 1 top 10 in his last 8 appearances at the Alfred Dunhill before winning last year while Branden Grace had missed the cut on his only previous appearance before winning in 2012. And it makes sense – with only 2 rounds at St Andrews and 1 each at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, it gives you no time to feel comfortable. You need to be playing well, adept on links courses and content with the format of the event.
Knowing this, what are we putting particular importance on? Well, the winner has won with a score of -22 or below in the last 3 years – so birdies are an absolute must. With quite forgiving fairways, length off the tee is useful – but GIR and putting is where it’s won and lost. David Howell was 4th GIR and 5th putts per GIR on the way to his win last year yet was 51st in driving accuracy. Someone who ticks these boxes and is playing well will ultimately do the business.
Tommy Fleetwood (33/1 Ladbrokes)
We mentioned that you need a man in form and young Fleetwood is exactly that. He finished superbly at the Wales Open with 4 birdies and an eagle to grab a share of 2nd place, 1 shot behind Dutchman Luiten.
It seems, even at this early stage in his career, the Englishman is somewhat of a links specialist. Winning at Gleneagles last year and coming 5th in this event shows this. He also recorded one of his only top 20’s in his maiden year on tour, 2012, at another links track at the KLM Open.
He’s streakier than bacon at times and we hope the Alfred Dunhill will cap what has been a great end to his 2014 season.
Brooks Koepka (40/1 BetFred)
Much like his compatriot Peter Uihlein, Brooks has the uncanny knack of going on streaks. 3 of his last 4 starts have been 15th, 3rd and 11th – the last two are on links courses.
2013 was massive for him winning 3 Challenge Tour events in a row and securing European Tour status. But 2014 has been arguably bigger. T4 at the US Open and T15 at the Open shows he has what it takes at the highest level. He also finished 3rd at the Dubai Desert Classic and European Masters. His season in America was solid too – 4 top 25’s including a 3rd at the Frys.com Open.
So why this week? Well, he’s a big hitter and can loosen his arms with these generous fairways. He gets birdies like they’re going out of fashion and his recent form on links courses is solid. The class he showed at the aforementioned majors means he has the ideal game for all 3 tracks.
Bernd Wiesberger (50/1 Paddy Power)
It was great to see the Austrian finally getting recognition for how good he really is after his display at the PGA Championship, where he was in the final pairing with Rory McIlroy on the last day. What an experience it was for him. Since then, he’s finished 6th in Italy and 13th and 12th in Switzerland and Wales respectively. So his form is actually tough to beat.
Wiesberger eventually ended up T12 here last year but it was always going to be tough after he started the week with a round of 70. His final 3 rounds were as good as anyone. One thing that has been consistently argued at Bernd is his ability, or lack of, with the putter. Well, we’ve honestly seen vast improvements in recent times – shown by his results. At these odds too, this is a tremendous bet with a lot of value.
Ernie Els (66/1 Ladbrokes)
A man who loves this event with 4 top 10’s and someone who is actually in a bit of form. His T7 at the PGA Championship was when we first starting thinking about Els again – his 65 on the final day at point looked to be a whole lot better and had a chance of winning. The Big Easy bottled that form and took it with him to the play-offs. He finished T5 at the Barclays and T16 at the BMW, just missing out on the Tour Championship. But this was promising after what was on paper a poor year barring his 4th at the WGC Match Play.
So when you see the likes of Lowry at 22/1, this really is a solid bet. And you feel like Ernie has been around for ever, but at 44 he still has a few wins in him yet.
Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 Various)
Our 2nd South African of the week and more of a hunch than the rest. We all know what he does – he beat Paul Casey and Lee Westwood to the Open title at St Andrews in 2010. But after a few injury niggles last year, Louis hasn’t been quite the same. There have been points in recent times where Louis was a nailed on place every time he played. His win at the Volvo Golf Champions in January should’ve sparked something more this year, but like Ernie, only really turned up at the WGC Match Play.
So why now? He has a 5th place to his name in this event and besides the Barclays where he missed the cut, his last appearance was a T15 at the PGA Championship – respectable to say the least. He is ideal for this event and will have had a good rest in preparation for this week.
Pablo Larrazabal (80/1 Various)
Once again, another eyebrow raising pick. The Spaniard is one of our absolute favorites and loves to go low. Except for last week in Wales, Pablo’s recent Links form is very impressive. T11 Scottish Open and T5 KLM Open – where he shot a 2nd round 62 and looked on for 59 at one point. His 75 on day 3 would have disappointed him but responded with a 65 in the final round.
But if there is one person who will be buzzing to get out on the course after watching the Ryder Cup, it’s him. And has a genuine opportunity to make the 2016 team. He will enjoy the crazy format, was 17th last year and will be the perfect partner for anyone in the pro-am. He’s 80/1 for a reason but we’re willing to chuck him in at number 6 and see what happens.
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