Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - St Andrews, Kingsbarns & Carnoustie

From the hype and tension of a Ryder Cup one week, to the relaxed and often regarded as the most loved, yet one of the most lucrative tournaments on the Tour the next, The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship takes place this week in East Scotland on three courses as a PRO-AM. The cut will come after round three with everyone having played each of the courses once, before playing St. Andrews on Sunday. Playing with amateurs, the courses will be set up fairly easy so if the weather behaves, we can expect some decent scoring. Its not everyone's cup of tea though; some players feel very relaxed in the company of celebrities and businessmen, other's don't. Same goes for us spectators; I won't be watching Bill Murray tripping over himself again this year or Niall Horan "promoting" the game to the hoards of screaming teenage girls either! Given the length of time it will take for the groups to play their rounds, I won't be checking the bloody awful European Tour app either too often. I'll tune in Sunday and hopefully I will still have an interest, bet-wise!

The Courses

We have three links courses this week being played in October in Scotland. These are St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. We immediately start looking at our Irish & British contingent don't we? We should also consider past winners, especially those that have won here from totally out of the blue and who can't forget Oliver Wilson's victory here two years ago! Given that the tournament contenders will play St Andrews twice, its worth looking at results here and at The Open last year. The Scottish Open played at Castle Stuart should also provide some clues. Of the three courses, Kingsbarns represents the best scoring opportunity with Carnoustie the more difficult. Branden Grace shot 60 at Kingsbarns in his opening round here in 2012 and went onto win the title. Pending weather, it might turn out to be advantageous to play it first provided a solid opening score is produced. Playing St Andrews third provides a back to back opportunity but all in all it should all balance out. Five plus hours playing alongside "colourful" characters will require patience so I don't expect the likes of Victor Dubuisson to prevail here.

My Shortlist

I had reduced the field down to 19 players this morning before chopping it further to settle on 10. I mention this as Richie Ramsay & Soren Kjeldsen as well as the aforementioned, Branden Grace, Ross Fisher who went close for the blog in Germany LTO, along with Paul Dunne, Thorbjorn Olesen, Renato Paratore, Oliver Fisher and Ben Evans and Bradley Dredge were the ones culled and I wouldn't be surprised if one of them did indeed win. I may even get involved in-play with Ben Evans should I check the leaderboard at some point !

Martin Kaymer came in for a lot of stick at Hazeltine for his poor performance so he'll be anxious to put that right very soon. He has form here having won in 2010 and has a further 3 TOP20s in his other 7 starts. But he can't be trusted at the moment so instead I have to consider Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood who both have solid form for this event. Indeed the Englishman has impressive results to show from his 5 visits: 13-2-5-55-5 and he certainly arrives in much better form this time than in previous editions. Lowry will tee it up here motivated to make the Ryder Cup team in Paris in two years time and whilst qualification for it doesn't start this week, he'll want to end the year on a high especially having coming so close to winning the US Open back in June. Three TOP20 finishes here the past 3 years augurs well, even more so that he was practicing last week at Tralee Golf Club, a tough links course on the Atlantic Coast. But its Graeme McDowell I want to get onside with this week for pretty much the same reasons as mentioned for Shano. He tweeted on Sunday how "cheesed off" he was to be sat on his couch watching the Ryder Cup. 2016 wasn't a bad year for Gmac although he lost his putting form during the summer. If he has found his touch again he can prevail here on courses that suit him greatly. TOP20 finish last year came after a 3 year spell away, and he yielded a 3-17-26 the previous 3 years before that again. His personality is perfect for pro-ams, and he will revel the conditions. 66/1 is more than big this week.

Jamie Donaldson has been out of form for quite awhile on the back of injury but recent results maybe suggest a good week is not far away. He did miss the cut in his last two events (European & Italian Open- both weather affected events). The Welshman has 3 TOP20s from his last 7 visits to the Dunhill(2 TOP10s) and is a former winner of the Irish Open at a Royal Portrush back in 2012. Another who would have watched events at Hazeltine with mixed emotions, Donaldson can do a "Wilson" here and surprise. He seems to produce his best results at this time of the year too. 150/1 is worth a play here to keep that Autumn form going in the outright market as well as the 6/1 on offer for TOP20.

Finally, Peter Hanson makes the staking plan this week and hopefully he will have more to celebrate than his 39th birthday (4th October) come Sunday. Just the 1 TOP10 so far this season and 5 TOP20s from his 16 starts may not seem encouraging but 2 of those TOP20s came in his last 3 starts. From his 11 starts here, he has missed the cut just once, yielding 5 TOP20s. Fair to say he likes this event. The tournament has thrown up triple figure priced winners many times in the past and as with Oli Wilson, has seen a player hit form out of the blue. Hanson is a quality player who is steadily starting to produce some scores and he could be an ideal back-to-lay play here this week. He makes a TOP20 play for sure @ 6.00


0.50 pts win G. McDowell @ 67.00
0.25 pts win J.Donaldson @ 180.00
0.25 pts win P. Hanson @ 160.00

2.00 pts TOP10 G.McDowell @ 6.00
2.00 pts TOP20 J. Donaldson @ 7.00
2.00 pts TOP20 P. Hanson @ 6.00

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