Selectabet: Barclays Scottish Open
July 4, 2011 Leave a comment
Date: 7th to 10th July 2011
Competition: The Barclays Scottish Open
Venue: Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, Scotland
Played a week before The Open Championship, The Barclays Scottish Open is always one of the most keenly contested championships and after years of tour players asking for it, the tournament finally moves to a challenging links course, Castle Stuart in the Highlands of Scotland, overlooking the Moray Firth in Inverness. Right enough.
Yards: 7,050 yards
Clad in ginger wigs, multi coloured patterned skirts and clutching Irn Bru, many of Scotland’s top golfing talent including Alastair (“t-a-i-r”) Forsyth (241/1 at BetDaq), Stephen Gallagher (140/1 at Bet365) and Colin Montgomerie (227/1 at Betfair) will swear their way around our homeland Open. But so will some Americans including Phil Mickelson (25/1 at PaddyPower), Matt Kuchar (23/1 at BetDaq) and Brandt Snedeker (46/1 at BetDaq) – who all lay claim to being “a quarter Scotch” between inhaling their part-National dish of deep friend everything including pizza, haggis balls and Mars bars.
The European Tour welcomes back World Number 1, Luke Donald (9/1 everywhere including SkyBet and BetFred), 3, Lee Westwood (9/1 everywhere including William Hill and 32Red) and world number 31 Justin Rose (33/1 at Bet365 and BetFred) – and let us not forget the 1050 ranked, Grieg Hutcheon (949/1 at BetDaq) but despite moving to a links venue the week before The Open Championship, the field for the Barclays remains distinctly lighter that it should and therefore a touch disappointing with only 5 of the World’s top ten ranked in attendance.
As the saying goes, “If it’s not Scottish – its shite!” and this course is as Scottish and links-like as you will find anywhere. Castle Stuart has many distinctive features including rumples, bunkers, infinity greens, railway sleepers, heather, marram and whins making it a stimulating textured feast for the eyes. However with many uneven lies affecting ball striking and accuracy, a good performance will require someone with an array of recovery options to ensure a feast full of pars or better.
The beautiful opening three holes of each nine run away from the Clubhouse on top of a raised beach on the shores of the Moray Firth but expect both the 552 yard par 5 6th hole to test distance control with a long thin green sitting between two waste bunkers and the daunting 220 yard cliff top hugging 17th hole to leave some fairly ugly numbers on some score cards.
Ones to watch:
Och aye the noo, wrapped in Saltire flags and with the Buckfast on ice, my ones to keep an eye on this week include PGA Tour playing World Ranked number 25 Scot Martin Laird (45/1 at Bet365 and BetFred) and European Tour newbie and Aberdeen’s favourite son, Richie Ramsay (81/1 at BetDaq). Both winners on their respective tours in the last 12 months, both long and accurate with the driver (leaving potential to make a short course even shorter), holding high ranks in greens in regulation and both with knowledge and understanding of the links game (and the unpredictability of the Scottish weather) my ones to watch will be there to raise blood pressure through locals part clogged arteries.
Eee by gum, straight from “The North”, European Tour joker and Sassenach Simon Dyson (94/1 at Betfair and BetDaq) is plucked from the each way Tam O’Shanter this week. A steady performer with three top 5s to his name since March, a good putter and with proven success over Scottish links (Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2009) Dyson will always be on hand to raise spirits for a podium place, if not the trophy this weekend.
One to Win:
5th in The Open (as an Amateur) in 2008, 3rd in the same tournament in 2009 and the Rookie of that Year prove his credentials as a Pro golfer and capable links player; matches Robert Karlsson as the tallest beanpole on the Tour, Chris Wood (89/1 at Betfair) is my top tip for the title this weekend and first in line for the 550,000 euro prize pot.