Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Scottish Open 2014 - Royal Aberdeen GC

This week’s Scottish Open on the Balgownie Linksof Royal Aberdeen Golf Club has attracted a world class field as the players try to emulate Phil Mickelson from twelve months ago, by winning this title and repeating the week after at The Open. We have very little course form to go on here, as, despite being known as the sixth oldest Golf Club in the world, this will be the first time it’s hosted the Scottish Open. It has hosted the Seniors Open in 2005 where Tom Watson beat Ireland’s Des Smyth in a play-off and the 2011 Walker Cup which saw the hosts defeat the Americans. One thing is for sure though , we will be treated to pure links golf, severe rough and tricky greens and a few bunkers ! The fairways are reported to be quite narrow so emphasis on accuracy cannot be underestimated this week. Home boys Paul Lawrie and Richie Ramsay will know the course better than most and the latter may be worth keeping an eye on.

The Ones to Beat

Rory leads the market and having honed his links game at home the past couple of weeks he should be well prepared for the next two weeks.Well, if the nightclubbing with a certain Irish model hasn't worn him out! Maybe the sessions he's had the past couple of weeks with his mates and some time to let some steam off after the incessant meetings re: Horizon lawsuit, could be a good thing though. We'll get an idea this week. Of the two courses though I’d prefer his chances at Hoylake more so than Royal Aberdeen and he’ll be a watching brief for me this week. The field comprises quite a few Americans and they will be buoyed by Kevin Stadler’s near miss in Paris on Sunday. Indeed from that Walker Cup in 2011, Peter Uhlein will be hoping for a better outcome this time. Defending champion Phil Mickelson will also be joined by Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler who have the game to do well here. Fowler seems to thrive on the more difficult course, and Walker’s accuracy will be key to his chances. But the very mention of difficult courses means one player jumps out, and that is recent PGA Tour winner at a difficult Congressional, Justin Rose. He may contest favouritism with Rory this week but rightly so. For me he has all the tools to compete here. Patience will be a big attribute.

 My Selections

 With a relatively unknown course to assess form on, and given the quality of the field, it could be a very difficult week to pick the winner. Those without a world class short game will struggle here and it maybe an opportunity for Ireland’s Padraig Harrington to get amongst the leaderboard. Recent signs are his game is not far away and if he should start holing some putts he can make a decent score. He’ll relish this course and if weather is kind (draw wise) to Padraig he could have a very good week. Likewise, Shane Lowry who arrives on the back of four TOP25s in his last six starts. Both could relish conditions this week but I'm prepared to swerve both.
Stephen Gallacher is playing very well this season and he’d love to win this title just as much as Lawrie and Ramsay. Also from Aberdeen, he will be familiar with this course. He went well for awhile in Paris last week before a final round 76 saw him drop down to a tie of 18th. Former winner at the Dunhill Links augurs well for his chances not to mention he was beaten in a playoff last year at Gleneagles so he clearly loves playing at home. Gallacher has pocketed two TOP10s at the Scottish open in the past six years but this course will be more up his alley this time round. On top of those TOP10s, Gallacher has recently gone close to taking out another victory having lost in the play-off in Sweden last month, not to mention losing in a playoff to Tommy Fleetwood at Gleneagles last year. He's a must bet for me this week at current odds of 45/1. 

I couldn’t ignore Thongchai Jaidee again this week either, and sometimes it pays to stick with players in good current form. Tied 2nd in France following his TOP5 in Germany, Jaidee arguably is the in-form player on the European Tour right now but yet decent odds often come about the 45 year old who won that Nordea Masters only last month. Ultra consistent from tee to green, Royal Aberdeen should be to his liking and it would be no surprise to see him in the mix once again.

Joost Luiten has always shown his liking for links and he, like Gallacher finished T18th last week after a couple of weeks off. Prior to his missed cut at the US Open, the Dutchman had bagged himself  two TOP5s in his previous 3 starts (12th in the other) so he could be nice and warmed up for this and next week. At 40/1 minimum he's worth adding to the staking plan.
Finally, a speculative wager on Aussie Brett Rumford this week on a links course, where if the wind blows, gives the former Irish Open champion a chance to put recent poor form behind him. He has a decent enough record at Gleneagles (four TOP10s in his last seven visits) and his ability to play in the wind on finicky courses could be a welcome challenge to the five time European Tour winner. Hes popped up to win before in the past after a bad spell and who knows he may draw on his experience at Baltray and strike again. Small stake on Betfair at around 500.00 and a play on the TOP20 market @ 11/1 for a little interest though for me.
Staking Plan (7pts/units)
1 pt e/w S.Gallacher @ 45/1
1 pt e/w T.Jaidee @ 45/1
1 pt e/w J.Luiten @ 40/1
.10 pts win B.Rumford @ 500.00
.90 pts TOP20 B.Rumford @ 11/1

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