Frazzled looks at the outright market for the Scottish Open and has selections of 33/1 Brooks Koepka and 50/1 Tommy Fleetwood.
Event & Venue:
The 2015 Open Championship is nearly upon us with the massive news in the past few days being that Rory McIlroy is very likely to miss the event and indeed many months, after injuring his ankle playing "soccer". Given that the St Andrews venue would have suited him so well, this has already caused a major shake up in the betting for next week, but what happens over the next four days at the Scottish Open is also likely to be very influential.
The Scottish Open is now looking like a very important warm up for the Open itself since they moved the event back to links courses in 2011, when it was staged at Castle Stuart and the calibre of winner has also been impressive with Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose being 3 of the 4 winners over this 4 year period. While Castle Stuart held the event from 2011 to 2013, it is now in a rotation and after Royal Aberdeen in 2014, it is the famed Gullane Golf Club which stages the 2015 renewal. While Castle Stuart was criticised as a moderate venue, Royal Aberdeen was most certainly not and following the staging of the Irish Open at Royal County Down, it is an iconic links course in the shape of Gullane which now hosts the Scottish Open.
This venue on the shores of the Firth of Forth and a neighbour of Muirfield is said to be hosting golf for more than 350 years, although it was officially established in 1882. There are three courses and while Willo Park Jr is responsible for Course number 2 and number 3, it is not known who designed the number 1 Course. It has staged local and final qualifying for a number of Open Championships, including Muirfield in 2013, but this will be the first event that it will have staged on the European Tour.
Once again the prize money is very significant this week, with a total prize fund of of €3,250,000 and given how valuable a warm up the event has proved in recent years, there is a string field assembled, including many Americans such as Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka.
The course being used this week is a composite of 16 holes from Course Number 1 and 2 holes from Course Number 2. It will measure 7,133 yards and will play to a Par 70. There are only two Par 5s on the course and they measure 523 yards and 599 yards, but there are plenty of long Par 4 holes, with 6 of the 12 measuring in excess of 450 yards.
While the information that is available on the European Tour site continues to disappoint, we know that this is an undulating course and the greens are quite large. The fairways are be quite generous at an average width of 25 yards and are typical of Scottish Open venues, which are not set up to be a severe test ahead of the Open Championship, but it does seem that the rough will be thicker than expected, with the maintained rough at 75mm, and will provide more of a test of accuracy as a result.
In addition it looks like wind is very much going to be a factor, with 17km/h wins expected on Thursday and gusts of 24km/h. The wind is set to gradually increase over the following three days with 24km/h expected over the weekend and gusts of up to 40km/h. Given the layout of the course with many holes being played in alternate directions, getting a feel for these conditions will be quite a challenge and the scores of between -16 and -19 that have been required to win over the past four years, may not be quite needed this week.
While we always look at the requirements for victory in terms of driving accuracy, greens in regulation etc, this week it really is all about players that can play on these links venues, have some solid form to assess and who tend to play very well in blustery conditions.
Our first selection this week is Brooks Koepka. He has been rapidly rising in the rankings over the past 2 years and a breakthrough victory from a high class field at the Turkish Airlines Open, took his game to another level last year. This built on some excellent displays including 3rd in the Desert Classic and 4th in the US Open in 2014 and he also finished 15th behind Rory at Valhalla in the PGA Championship.
Koepka first cut his teeth on the Challenge Tour and it was his 3rd victory on this Tour in 2013, which gave him his main European Tour card. That was in the Scottish Hydro Challenge and he has built on those fond memories with a 12th the following week in this Scottish Open, a solid 28th on his debut at Gleaneagles and then last year he posted a 9th place finish in the Alfred Dunhil Links. This is not as compelling as much of the links form on offer this week, but the upside is huge with Brooks as he is ideally suited to these type of venues, given the generous fairways and the power off the tee he possesses.
Koepka arrives here in very decent form, as although he has not won since Phoenix in February (where he landed 50/1 advice from us), he has produced some solid displays and was 3rd at the tricky TPC Southwind venue on his penultimate start, before finishing 16th at Chambers Bay in the US Open. He ranks 10th in Driving Distance on the PGA Tour this season, 34th in GIR, 8th in Strokes Gained Putting, 24th in Birdie Average and 10th in Total Putting. He is also 35th in Par 4 Scoring Average, which will be important with 48 of these to play and ranks 1st in Eagles and 7th in Par 5 Scoring. His game is therefore set up very well for this venue and he is more than comfortable playing in the wind.
Koepka has been on many people's lips for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits later this summer and he has a live chance at St Andrews on a course that he should love, but this also looks an ideal test for him and the 33/1 with Ladbrokes is our first bet this week.
Some of the prices for The Open next week have tumbled in the wake of the Rory injury but Koepka's has not. The 60/1 with Coral looks a very decent price which will be much shorter if he wins this week and will still contract with a prominent showing. It is worth grabbing ahead of these four days.
2 points each way Brooks Koepka at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
1 point each way Brooks Koepka to win Open Championship at 60/1 with Coral
The early 28/1 about Branden Grace was tempting, but he is now a general 22/1 and looks just about right. Tommy Fleetwood on the other hand trades at 50/1 despite being all the rage in The Open Championship market on Tuesday and this looks a price worth taking.
He has an outstanding record in Scotland, with his only career win coming at the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles in 2013. He has also finished 5th in the Dunhill Links Championship in both 2011 and 2013 and was an excellent runner up to Oliver Wilson last year. He has produced in top quality fields as well with a 6th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this year reading very well when combined with the very relevant links form. His recent form has also been solid with an 11th in the BMW International coming after a long trip back from the States where he was 27th in the US Open. With other excellent showing such as a quarter final in the WGC Cadillac World Matchplay this season, it is clear that he is very much an improved golfer and on an ideal course, he should be a formidable opponent for the rest of the field.
The 50/1 with Ladbrokes is worth taking and any 100/1 available each way for St Andrews is also worth an interest for a hold or back to lay point of view, given that he has such an outstanding record on that course in the Dunhill Links event.
1.25 points each way Tommy Fleetwood at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
1 point each way Tommy Fleetwood to win Open Championship at 100/1 with Coral and Betway.