Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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Scottish Open Preview

Monday, July 10, 2017

A new course for this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open presents gamers with the usual extra degree of difficulty.


But the fact it has the word ‘Links” in the title offers a decent amount of reassurance and opportunity for correlating course form.


Dundonald Links is a par 72 located on the west coast of Scotland, sitting between Troon and Irvine. The Scottish Open is a fine tournament in itself but its proximity to the Open Championship is a huge reason why it attracts a high calibre of player and this year the field is particularly strong.


Rory McIlroy tries his luck again after the disappointment of his early exit in Ireland while Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson also head to Scotland. Not so Jon Rahm, who probably feels he’s honed his game nicely enough after blitzing the field with 24-under at last week’s Irish Open.


From 1996 to 2010, this event was played on the inland, American-style Loch Lomond. As a warm-up for the following week’s Open Championship it was a long way short of ideal.


But since the tournament switched to linksland in 2011, it’s been very useful prep, with five of the six Open winners since then having honed their games in the Scottish Open.


How Open winners fared in Scottish Open the week before


2016 Henrik Stenson (T13 Castle Stuart)

2015 Zach Johnson (DNP)

2014 Rory McIlroy (T14 Royal Aberdeen)

2013 Phil Mickelson (1st Castle Stuart)

2012 Ernie Els (T52 Castle Stuart)

2011 Darren Clarke (T66 Castle Stuart)


Scottish Open winners since move to links courses


2016 Alex Noren (-14 Castle Stuart)

2015 Rickie Fowler (-12 Gullane)

2014 Justin Rose (-16 Royal Aberdeen)

2013 Phil Mickelson (-17 Castle Stuart)

2012 Jeev Milkha Singh (-17 Castle Stuart)

2011 Luke Donald (-19 Castle Stuart)



The Course


Designed by Kyle Phillips, Dundonald is a short, 7,055 yard par 72. The course was converted for military use during World War II and lay dormant until the beginning of the 21st Century, opening for business in 2003. It’s located  just a few miles down the road from last year’s Open venue Royal Troon where Henrik Stenson beat Phil Mickelson in that memorable Sunday duel. Speaking about Dundonald, Phillips told The Scotsman: “If you miss the greens at Dundonald, it rolls away, so you need to have that imagination and craftiness from some of those tight lies and that will separate winners from the top five. I’d say this course will suit players who are good tacticians, great around the greens and not daunted by those tight lies. If the wind is down and it’s damp, you may see low scores at Dundonald but the flip side, if it’s dry and windy, it goes the other way.” Phillips also designed another familiar modern links, Kingsbarns, which opened in 2000 and is one of the three courses used at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He’s also the man behind The Grove, scene of the 2006 WGC-American Express and, more recently, the 2016 British Masters won by Alex Noren. Dundonald also held the 2016 Ladies Scottish Open won by Frenchwoman Isabelle Boineau with 11-under.





Sun and rain are in the forecast for Thursday and Friday but the wet stuff looks set to win the battle in the skies for Saturday’s third round. The odd shower could visit on Sunday too. Temperatures are consistent at around the early 60s while Saturday will probably feel the breeziest of the four days although the forecast winds don’t look too extreme.



The Leading Contenders


Rory McIlroy

It’s fair to say that Rory likes playing in Scotland. His last eight starts at ‘The home of golf’ show three second places, a third and a fifth, those three runner-up finishes all coming at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. But what about his current form? To some extent, we can forgive his MC last week given how much off-course stuff he was doing at the Irish Open (then again, that didn’t stop him winning the year before). But, quite simply, form of 35-MC-17-MC since the Masters is well below standard.


Rickie Fowler

The winner at Gullane in 2015, Fowler didn’t defend his Scottish Open title last year so will be keen to grab it back. He also took T8 on his debut at Royal Aberdeen in 2014 so it’s been a special and profitable event for him so far. There’s perhaps an air of disappointment that he hasn’t converted golden chances into more wins this season but his numbers are superb – six top fives and three other top 20s in his last 12 starts, the latest a top three in the Quicken Loans (68-65 on weekend).


Henrik Stenson

As if next week’s Open wasn’t in his head enough already, the fact that this week’s course is just a few miles from the scene of his brilliant win at Royal Troon last year will really flood him with memories. Add in his second place at Muirfield in the 2013 Open and Scottish Open form of 13-3-8 since the switch to links and he simply loves playing this style of golf in the place where it all began. His recent form is hit and miss but the Swede did post T10 in Germany on his last start.


Alex Noren

This week’s defending champion. Noren used victory in this event last year (one-shot success over Tyrrell Hatton at Castle Stuart) to go on a winning spree. Four more titles have followed since, the latest thanks to a magical final-round 62 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May. With further success in Scotland via second place at last year’s Paul Lawrie Match Play, and thirds in the Alfred Dunhill Links and this event in 2012, there is much to like. T10 in the Open de France on last start.


Adam Scott

The Aussie has a T3 (Muirfield) and a T10(St. Andrews) from two of the last three Open Championships he’s played in Scotland. As for this event, it’s his first start in the Scottish Open since the tournament moved to a links venue. He played six times at Loch Lomond from 2001 to 2009 and had four top 25s, two of those top fours. Scott missed the cut in the U.S. Open but before that had posted top 10s at Augusta, Sawgrass and TPC Southwind.


Patrick Reed

Still a European Tour member so, unlike Scott, eligible for the official European Tour fantasy game. Gamers have been lukewarm to his availability in recent events but this could be the time to pull the trigger. The American has made the top 25 in seven of his last eight worldwide appearances since April while, in three starts on Scottish soil, he’s posted 12-10-20 as well as starring for the U.S. at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup. The T10 came in this event last year when he closed with twin 67s.


Matt Kuchar

Kuchar played this event on several occasions at Loch Lomond, even wearing a flat cap to show how well he was fitting in. His record was poor and after MC in 2002 he didn’t return until 2011 (did he regret the hat thing?) but came T10 at Castle Stuart that year and was runner-up to Fowler in the 2015 event at Gullane.  He’s got the skills and current form (16-4-12-9) to shine again although he’s not available for the official ET fantasy game.


Branden Grace

A winner of the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and he did it thanks largely to a stunning 60 at Kingsbarns so should be happy to be playing here on another Kyle Phillips design. The South African also lost a play-off to Phil Mickelson in the 2013 Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and was T17 at Gullane in 2015 so he’s a proven links performer. Had three tops 11s and a T24 in five starts before a missed cut at the U.S. Open on his last start.


Bernd Wiesberger

Just about the most consistent player on the European Tour, he’s now connected eight top 30s, that run starting off with a win at the Shenzhen International in China. T16 in the U.S. Open was a fine effort and he’s been a solid on Scottish links too. That’s shown by 7-4-14-12 in the last four editions of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He’s also had a second and a fourth at Gleneagles although he’s yet to crack the top 30 in four tries in this event.


Ross Fisher

Perhaps one who wouldn’t mind if this event was still played at Loch Lomond given that he went 19-25-8-8 there from 2007-2010. However, he’s also done well since the move to links golf, with T24 at Castle Stuart in 2013 and T7 at Gullane in 2015. In addition, he’s also a two-time runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the most recent coming last October. Fisher has been playing some excellent golf ever since that second place and T7 in France last time was his sixth top 10 in 10 starts.

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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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