Frazzled previews the Scottish Open Golf this week from Castle Stuart Golf Links and he has bets on Martin Kaymer, George Coetzee, Johan Carlsson and Callum Shinkwin.
Event & Venue
The countdown to The Open Championship continues and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is the last event on the European Tour before Royal Troon begins next Thursday. The event returns to Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness after an absence of two years when it has been held at Royal Aberdeen and Gullane and given that the during its tenure as the venue for this event from 2011-2013, the three Open Championship winners warmed up here, it is worth keeping a close eye on the event with next week's 3rd Major in mind. Only Phil Mickelson doubled up, but Darren Clarke and Ernie Els fine tuned their links game here and players such as Branden Grace, Stenson, Mickelson himseld and others like Shane Lowry and Martin Kaymer, wiull be worth watching closely, as big performances here will see their price shorten for Trron next week.
The prize fund is significant this week at €3,250,000 which is only bettered by a number of non-majors in Europe, such as the Open De France, Irish Open and Dunhill Links so a strong field has assembled both to get some last minute experience with links golf or really try and boost their yearly earnings.
Castle Stuart was designed by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hansen and has only been opened since 2009. It has been the subject of criticism in the past and in 2013 Graeme McDowell, when asked whether he would be competing at Castle Stuart, said that there are much better courses in Scotland and it is a strange choice of venue (or words to that effect, which incurred the wrath of the fiercely proud Paul Lawrie at the time.) GMac is back this year as part of his Open prep and as he badly needs Ryder Cup points, so his feelings about the course have been out to one side.
It is a course that is laid on two levels and many of the holes are adjacent to the Moray Firth which can ensure that shore breezes play a part even in the mildest of conditions. It measures 7,193 yards and plays to a Par 72. The course has generally played very easy with its wide open fairways and many shorter Par 4 holes and unless the wind blows, it looks at the mercy of the field. The wind did finally blow on Sunday in 2013, when the scoring was more subdued, but Phil Mickelson still won with a -17 total, although this was nothing like the -19 recorded by Luke Donald over 54 holes in 2011.
This is a venue that does place a lot of pressure on drives (unless conditions are foul) as the fairways are generous and the landing areas are not difficult to find. The difficulty begins with the second shot and approach play together with around the green skill is very important. The greens themselves are quite tricky, even though they usually run to around a slow 10 on the stimpmeter and a solid week with the putter will be required. However overall the course is a relatively easy test and it's only real defence is the weather. The forecast is for wind on Thursday so scoring could be a little more difficult, but the wind should relent from Friday onwards. This is Scotland however so things can change quite quickly.
In order to find the winner this week, we are focusing on players with excellent approach play and solid form at this venue and other links courses. Power is not essential off the tee but with only three of the Par 4s measuring over 450 yards and four of them measuring less than 400 yards, this does provide the power hitters with an opportunity to be able to play approaches with a wedge, given that there is no real impediment to letting it rip from the tee box. The Open Championship itself is a much more difficult test that can be beyond some players that could excel this week and form at easier links venues such as The Dunhill Links Championship, some of the Irish Open venues and the KLM Open at the Kennemer Golf Club could be worth looking at, while form at the Qatar Masters has proven time and again to correlate with both the Dunhill Links and the Johnnie Walker that is also held in Scotland at Gleneagles.
I am pretty sure that Martin Kaymer has never been selected as a bet in the history of this column, which is surprising for a player of his calibre, but this looks like the week to change things as he looks a decent price here on a course that will suit and with his game looking in very good shape.
Kaymer has had some very big wins over the past few years in the US Open and Players Championship, but he has not been the most consistent. However the failure to secure his PGA card for 2016 and the return to play many tournaments in Europe has had a beneficial effect and although he has not won in 2016, he is playing very solid golf. He is currently on a run of 4 consecutive Top 10 finishes on main European Tour events with placings of 6th, 5th, 7th and 5th and one poor round in each of these events proved costly. He now however returns to Scotland where he won this event in 2009 and where he won the Dunhill Links in 2010 (also 2nd in 2008). His game is very solid at the moment and he ranks 35th in Driving Distance over the past 3 months, 24th in GIR and 13th in Scrambling, while he is 1st in Par 5 Performance and 20th in Par 4 Performance.
Kaymer currently lies 52nd in the World Rankings and also is struggling for Ryder Cup consideration. A big week here, should set him up nicely for The Open next week at Troon and will vault him up the rankings and Ryder Cup standings. He is worth backing at 20/1 with BetVictor and Ladbrokes and it is also worth taking an interest in The Open next week, as his price will be much shorter if he wins this event on Sunday.
2 points each way Martin Kaymer at 20/1 with BetVictor and Ladbrokes (1/4 odds - 5 places)
1 point each way Martin Kaymer - Open Championship at 5-0/1 with Boylesports (1/4 odds - 6 places)
George currently lies outside the Top 100 in the World, which is very poor for a player of his ability, but he has had injuries and his recent display in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational looks one that could help him put together a very solid run of form in the coming months.
He produced 4 solid rounds including a very good closing 69 to finish 21st and that was easily his best finish since winning the Dimension Data Pro-am back in February. That win was at Fancourt Links and he has a batch of form on links venues and courses that correlate well here to make him of real interest this week. He was 2nd in the Qatar Masters in 2013 and 5th in 2015, while he has been 2nd in the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles in 2011 and 3rd in the Portugal Masters at the Villamoura coastal resort. Importantly, he was also 3rd here in 2011 and these wide open fairways should really get his eye in and allow him attack the course.
This might still be a little early in the comeback for George, but he is much too good a player to be languishing at 100/1 in this field and he is worth an interest with Skybet, who are the only firm going 6 places at this price. He is also worth a dabble in the Top Rest of the World market at 33/1 with Stan James.
1.25 points each way George Coetzee at 100/1 with Skybet (1/4 odds - 6 places)
1 point each way George Coetzee - Top ROW at 33/1 with Stan James (1/4 odds - 4 places)
Johan Carlsson is quietly having a very solid season and this could be the week that he makes a real name for himself. So far in 2016 he has missed just two cuts and while he has only had 1 Top 10 finish, he has registered a further 6 Top 20 finishes. These performances include 3 Top 20 finishes in the Desert Swing, including 13th in the Qatar Masters, 16th in the Trophee Hassan and a last time out 16th in the Open De France. He was also 13th in Qatar in 2015 and 16th in 2014, while his 5th in the KLM Open is also encouraging from a course correlation point of view. In addition, while he has no form to speak of in Scotland on links courses, he was 9th in the Paul Lawrie Matchplay last year, which was a very solid effort.
Carlsson is a powerful driver and ranks 17th in Driving Distance, while he is solid with his irons (68th in GIR) and hasa a decent around the green game (55th in Scrambling). 150/1 with Paddy Power, with 7 places paid each way, looks decent value this week and hopefully there will be no draw bias on Thursday for the afternoon starters, even though the wind is supposed to be a little lighter for the later starters.
1 point each way Johan Carlsson at 150/1 with Paddy Power (1/5 odds - 7 places)
1 point win Johan Carlsson - Top 20 Finish at 5/1 with Bet365 and Paddy Power
Callum Shinwin is worth a small interest here after producing the best performance of his career last week at the Open De France, where his 9th place finish on a course that may not have been ideal for him, was outstanding. He is a hugely powerful driver and is accurate with his irons, but the very tough test at Le Golf National should have been a little too much for him at this early stage of his career. However he ranked 2nd for Driving Accuracy and 1st for GIR and if a few more putts had rolled in, he would have been right in contention. He finished strongly with a 68 and that 9th place followed finishes such as 13th in the Trophee Hassan and 19th in the Irish Open. His putting is a weak part of his game at the moment but these slower surfaces should suit and given his driving prowess, we would be hopeful that he can play many wedges into the greens and leave himself with plenty of birdie chances.
That performance last week seems to have been largely ignored and the 150/1 with Paddy Power is more than fair and worth an interest, while given his ability to shoot very low rounds like the 3rd round 62 in the Shenzhen International, coupled with a potentially favourable last afternoon tee time, means he is of interest in the First Round Leader market as well.
0.75 points each way Callum Shinkwin at 150/1 with Paddy Power (1/5 odds - 7 places)
1 point each way Callum Shinkwin - FRL at 125/1 with Boylesports (1/4 odds - 5 places)