Race to Dubai: AAM Scottish Open

Race to Dubai:   Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open

Salvaged – that’s what this was. Salvaged. After all that came out in the wash (fairways, banks, bunkers and only 54 holes I seem to remember!) this was salvaged from a mere statistical existence in a history books, unlike most other Scottish sport, by a late to the party sponsor (who seem to like to properties all things shite Scottish). That said, I am delighted that the best game on grass warms up for “The Jug” by playing links golf in the motherland.

Date:                     12th – 15th July 2012

Venue:                 Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, Scotland

It’s already the 56th best global course after a few years in existence! The opening three holes on each nine run away from the Clubhouse along the edge of a raised running along the side of the Moray Firth. It’s spectacularly natural and offers incredible views over the water to the Black Isle. Beware though, the expanse of wild looking bunkers bordering fairways and greens, the rumples and infinity edges that will catch all but the most accurate of shots.

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

Yards:                   7,193 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Looking at the full spectrum of talent on display consider the saltire clad loons James Byrne (500/1), David Law (600/1), Michael Stuart (1,000/1) and Sandy Lyle (1500/1) – with a cumulative world ranking of 5,436 (it seems the counting stops at rank 1447 (all bar James Byrne hit this invisible ceiling!) all the way down to the positively global Oosthuizen (33/1), Green (125/1) and Mickelson (28/1).

Consider…:

Not being negative (that’s the Scottish way) BUT, last year’s event was unfortunately hit by unprecedented summer storms that forced a foreshortened 54 hole version of the tournament. Coming off the back of 40 days and nights of recent rain – and with Noah clearly parking a sizeable floating zoo 100 yards out in the Moray firth – it all sounds too familiar aye? A winner again after 54 holes is possible but a little rain and 15 mph winds never hurt anyone right?

Ones to watch:

Hoping for another landslide victory on the 52 week cumulative anniversary as Numero Uno, it’s a majorly consistent Luke Donald (8/1 with BetFred) who has the potential to repeat what he repeated at Wentworth by repeating what he did last year. But I think it’s a likely podium not a triumph – though he does stand a better chance this week than next in the Open…

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

“He’s big, he’s strong – he’s not been winning long – its Colsaerts!”. World number 35, tall and lithe, its big hitting Nicolas Colsaerts (22/1 with BetFair) who will out bat the rest of the field this week AND he’s been Mr. Consistent in his scoring too. He triumphed in the mighty lucrative Volvo Match play but currently clings to an automatic Ryder Cup  spot but he will want to cement his position and ensure that he’s the only Belgium you can’t blame anything on.

Ones to win:

Three top tens in five outings put Padraig Harrington (17/1 with BetDaq) back on the radar – and now crucially for such an experienced links player just in time for the three weeks of the Irish, Scottish and British Opens. An 8th in the Masters was followed by a 4th in the US Open and a 7th in the Irish. He’s the major winner of the field in the best current form but not guaranteed a Ryder Cup pick he will be aiming to find some form or a trophy to make up ground on his peers.

Having searched in the dark abyss of mediocrity, it seems that Henrik Stenson (31/1 with BetDaq) has finally found what he’s been looking for and stopped playing mince. Two consecutive top tens in Germany and France signify the sweet swinging Swede might be back to somewhere resembling his very best. I am unsure what we all think the reasoning behind his drop in form (a fall out with Fanny perhaps left at bitter taste in his mouth?) but it’s a great return for the former winner of the Ryder Cup, Players Championship and WGC World Match play. Its tatties for the rest of the field!

Trick Shot!

If a South African flavor trick shot is your thing, what about a triple chance where if Oosthuizen, Coetzee or Grace triumph – there’s a 12/1 return with SkyBet.

If it’s a more homeland feeling stirring your loins this week, consider a top ten place for Marc Warren that will return you 11/1 with William Hill.

Finally, if it’s for the top Sassenach to finish in the field this week, look no further than Simon Dyson – who returns odd of 8/1 (without Donald in the mix) from Bet Victor.

Jenks Out!

 

Race to Dubai: Alstom Open de France

Race to Dubai:   Alstom Open de France

From the Chalk white cliffs in Normandy, to the vineyards in Burgundy and everything in between including the Alps, stunning National Parks and Gorges and the azure blue of the Mediterranean. France has it all. Including this week,  the European Tour as its travelling company of golfers rolls into town on a links swing on its way to Scotland and The Open. So sit back, relax and enjoy culture and class in abundance; music Maestro! Players -break a leg!

Date:                     5th – 8th July 2012

Venue:                 Le Golf National (Albatross Course), Gay Paris, La France

25 minutes South of Paris is Versailles – you may have heard of it. It’s more over the top than Disneyland Paris, just as expensive and the original symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art. In its garden is Le Golf National – a poncy French test of golf and, despite Seve’s best endeavours, host for the Ryder Cup in 2018. It is a confused offering: a links course but target golf where water hazards and bunkers create the demand for a full set of clubs. It has no hidden secrets but is open to being played properly in order to win including aggressively on the first 6; take the birdie chance on the 12th, and protect your score on the final holes.

Yards:                   7,347 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

It’s a strong European field this including Westwood (who missed out on a cracking Irish Open!) (7/1), Poulter (28/1), McDowell (16/1), Rose (16/1), Molinari (22/1) and Casey (110/1 – all Bet365). No Americans have been invited after Bubba Watson riled Francophiles by referring to three French landmarks as the big tower, the archway and the L building and referred to the Palace of Versailles as a castle before ordering a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite and pouring it off his hotel balcony. Im sure the appearance fee of $240,000 softened the pain of no return invite…

Consider…:

In the last 12 years (barring the odd year) it has been a happy hunting ground for the mediocre journeyman pro – with wins for such household names (in their own quaint English villages) for John Bickerton, Phillip Golding (1,000/1 with Bet365) and Malcolm McKenzie in 2006, 2003 and 2002 respectively. However, history dictates it also appears to favour the Scots (the miserable weather perhaps?), the French (zut alore!) and the South Africans (lord knows!) who have all sampled the sweet taste of a garlicky and wine fuelled victory here.

Ones to watch:

Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 with SkyBet) caught my eye last week – and his National flag looks vaguely French! After three good rounds including a closing 66 at Portrush netting him a € 149,140 pay day and second place, the micro Paraguayan still waits for the breakthrough victory but for now – he seems to be happy to continue being the bridesmade, not the bride – and as he showed from a full arsenal of shots and skills in Ireland, could be a contender on a tricky track like this.

As a 17 year old, David Drysdale (123/1 with BetFair) marked the score of Roger Chapman and John Daly in the 1992 Muirfield Open. Now himself a player on tour (despite years of nail biting finishes at the low end of the rankings) he is now an established accurate and consistent player who has compiled three top tens in 2012. Like, Zanotti, showed his ample talent with a closing 66 in Ireland to push him into the top 50 in the Race2Dubai and is a Scot – so plays good when its bad outside!

Ones to win:

Nottingham Forest supporting Tour vet (22 victories) Lee Westwood (7/1 with SkyBet) looks set to take the field by the scruff of the neck following a lazy week (sadly the best  week on Tour for both players, spectators and organisers alike). We all should know his form guide but its good – 4 top 5s in four months, 3rd in the Race to Dubai and over £1m in Euro take home pay already. Plus he’s above red hot Tiger Woods in the World Rankings! A potential winner? I think so…

Mais oui, c’est Victor Duboisson (80/1 with Bet365) qui a looking-a-likely-winner-this-week! With two top fives in his last three outings and with no finish worse than 27th since end of March, the Frenchman is ready for a breakthrough to the league of Tour winners. In 2009 he was world amateur number 1 and now a quiet 132 (in professional ranks) but on home soil, with the whole history of France on his shoulder and Louis XVII looking over him – a likely surge from a strong outing this week will be just what the Les Blues had in mind… But no jumping in the water please.

Jenks Out!