Prize Fund –$3,182,925
Winner’s Share – $627,002
Course – Gullane Golf Club (7,133 yards Par 70)
Our 2014 Picks – Paul Casey – T14 Robert Karlsson – T8 Rafael Cabrera-Bello – T27 Ryan Palmer – T51 Russell Knox – T27 Scott Jamieson – T8
Well, well, well. One week away from the third major of the year and everything just seems slightly barmy right now.
Firstly the obvious and astonishing news that Rory McIlroy announced – rupturing his ankle ligaments by playing football with his mates. Definitely out of the Scottish and 99.99% likely out of The Open. Craziness.
Just as shocking as his statement, the Northern Irishman said ‘Soccer’ instead of Football. You’ve been in America for only a short while Rory, come on, it’s FOOTBALL!!
And away from that debacle is the fact that we have never, ever seen a field quite like the one we’ve been served on the European Tour this week. A simply, star-studded line-up will be bombarding on a new track to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open rota – Gullane Golf Club.
Here’s just a few of the cheeky names that have made the trip over to the north west of Scotland…
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Ryan Palmer, Ian Poulter, Ben Martin, John Senden, Daniel Berger, Russell Knox, Cameron Tringale, Martin Laird and even David Duval.
Simply put, what a truly spectacular couple of weeks of true links golf we’ve got ahead.
So what do we know about Gullane then? Well, honestly, not a lot. It did host Local Open Qualifying back in 2013, when Matt Fitzpatrick, Oscar Florén and Ben Stow secured a Muirfield berth.
Only Fitzpatrick is in this field, but more on that later…
It stands at 7,133 yards and has only two par 5’s, however the 16th does measure at a monstrous 599 yards. All in all, there’s mid-range par 4’s that could be out fought by big hitters if they’re on their game.
The famous East Lothian track will be using 16 holes from the No.1 course and 2 from the No.2 and it’s set over an enormous expanse of land next to the beautiful mountainous seaside. Everything about it says Links though – long fescue rough, open fairways guarded by severe bunkers and sloping greens that are protected by even more severe bunkers.
Basically, stay out the bloody bunkers. All the varied uphill and downhill lies on the undulated fairways mean that it’s important for the players to have complete control and manoeuvre the ball how and when they want.
You’ll be looking for the traditional wind specialists and those that have a solid links record.
Ian Poulter (40/1 PaddyPower)
An interesting bet this week Ian Poulter. One we go into with slight trepidation, but one that could bear the fruits of some top winnings.
Firstly, he was out in japan for the ISPS Global Cup last week where he finished T4 and apparently played some very good golf. Now you can look at that like he’s had some heavy travelling, or you can think, well he’s going to be happy with the shape of his game at the moment.
Evidently, we’re going for the latter.
But all in all, it’s been a pretty solid few months for the Englishman, having recorded some impressive finishes.
A mediocre outing at Chambers Bay followed up a T5 at the Crowne Plaza, which he arguably should have come closer to winning, whilst there was 3 finishes inside the top 34 and then a T6 at Augusta.
It’s the first time we’ve seen Sir Ian back in the UK since the Ryder Cup and there’s no denying he’ll feel he has a massive point to prove.
Tommy Fleetwood (50/1 BetVictor)
Tommy Fleetwood instantly jumped off the page when we saw the odds because a lot of the mid-rangers don’t have the same sort of links pedigree and recent form.
The Englishman recorded a T11 on his last outing in Germany and even finished T27 at the very challenging Chambers Bay. The other two biggest events of the season in top quality fields, he put in quality performances as well. T6 at the BMW in Wentworth and T5 at the WGC Match Play – and that is the best 64 players in the world.
So, he’s proven he can mix it with the big boys and he’ll have to do it here for sure. His recent form on Links tracks is highly impressive, having grown up in the Southport area, that’s no surprise.
T21 in Ireland, T17 at the Trophee Hassan, T2 at this event last year, T2 in Wales and his only European Tour win coming at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles.
The boy’s got game in the wind.
Russell Knox (66/1 various)
We seem to do it every time Russell Knox is over on Scottish shores, but it’s just too tempting. Especially at 66/1.
We’ve consistently seen the specialist all-rounder in and around PGA Tour leaderboards and challenging for an e/w return. A T8 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic shows that he’s not far away and whilst there was a worrying withdrawal last week, the fact he was over par and sighted an ‘unknown illness’ to us means that he’s absolutely fine.
He probably just wanted to get over here quicker and get into the swing of things on his home turf.
His game is well suited to links golf and having gained so much experience and stature over in the States, there’s no reason he can’t replicate his outstanding tee to green game and give the leaders a run for their money.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (125/1 various)
Firstly, we know that Matthew Fitzpatrick has missed the last 2 cuts and in fact missed 3 out of the last 4 cuts, but there’s still been enough golf in recent outings to warrant selection this week.
T3 in Austria before a very impressive T8 in Ireland on a very demanding Links course.
And that is where our main arguments lie. Links golf. He clearly has a natural love for coastal tracks – he even finished T23 at the RBC Heritage last year, one of the only links courses in the States.
But what draws us most to the young Englishman, is the fact that he is one of the only men in the field to have actually played Gullane in tournament conditions. He sailed through ‘Local’ Open Qualifying in 2013 before going on to win the Silver Medal. This place will hold good memories for him and if he can get his game going like we’ve seen in the past, there’s no reason why he can’t be in and around at the weekend.
David Horsey (225/1 StanJames)
Sorry, but at 225/1 it’s 100% worth a punt on wind and rain specialist Dave Horsey.
The Englishman has shown his liking to links tracks many times in the past and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t mount a challenge for a place this week.
He missed the cut last time out in France, but a T11 at the BMW gives some indication that he’s knocking it all right and for a specialist on these type of layouts, 225 seems very healthy.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.75 e/w on Ian Poulter at 40/1 (BetVictor)
£1.43 e/w on Tommy Fleetwood at 50/1 (Ladbrokes)
£1.00 e/w on Russell Knox at 66/1 (PaddyPower)
£0.50 e/w on Matthew Fitzpatrick 125/1 (StanJames)
£0.32 e/w on David Horsey 225/1 (StanJames)
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
European Tour: £45.50
PGA Tour: £-19.00
European Tour: £-100.62