It’s only just over a week now until the final Major of 2019, The Open Championship at Royal Portrush, but prior to that we have a couple of great events to get our teeth into, namely the ASI Scottish Open on the European Tour and the regular Stateside pre-Open stop, The John Deere Classic.
So, let’s begin with the Scottish Open and see if we can build on our great week in Ireland last week.
After three different venues over the past three years it is all change again this year as the event heads to The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, a par 71 playing to 7136 yards. Situated on the doorstep of regular Open Championship stop Muirfield, The Renaissance club is a modern day links course, which features all the expected trappings of a links set up, firm, fast fairways, contoured greens and thickish rough.
With many of the big guns from both sides of the Atlantic choosing to use this week as their main preparation for Royal Portrush we have a stellar field on display headed up by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson and Justin Thomas.
Of these, McIlroy (13/2) is understandably the clear market leader. However, he will surely have his focus on the forthcoming ‘home game’ at Royal Portrush, an event he will be desperate to win – and I am happy to swerve him on that basis.
Of the American raiders at the top of the betting, Fowler, a former winner of this event and an excellent exponent of links golf, makes the most appeal. But, like Rory, I think his eyes will be firmly on next week, so instead I shall start this week’s team with someone at bigger odds: Englishman Eddie Pepperell (28/1).
Eddie performed above expectation last week after a six week lay off for a niggling back injury to finish fourth and in doing so proved again how much he loves links golf. Second in this event last year before finishing sixth in The Open, with the contention rust blown off Eddie looks sure to be a contender here and I am happy to have him onside.
I’m also keen to have Martin Kaymer (35/1) onside. The two time Major champion is not yet qualified for The Open Championship and, having just missed out on one of the spots up for grabs in Ireland, he will be desperate for a big finish this week to snatch one of the final three spots available. The German has been much improved of late and is fancied to build on his strong finish of ninth last week.
Another player who I can’t ignore this week is last week’s hero for us, Andy Sullivan (35/1). While the Englishman’s odds have naturally shortened based on his second place at Lahinch, had it not been for Rahm’s Sunday heroics he could easily have bagged the trophy and, with his confidence surely flowing, this three time European Tour winner looks certain to be a threat again here.
Finally in Scotland at big odds I shall take a chance on local man Grant Forrest (125/1). Forrest who lives two miles up the road from this weeks venue is having a solid debut season on the European Tour, 14th last week the Scot will obviously have huge local support and he can hopefully harness this to produce a big week for us.
Taking a brief look at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour and after two consecutive weeks of new venues we find ourselves back at an old favourite, TPC Deere Run, a par 71 measuring 7268yds.
This is an event that has been kind to shorter-hitting, steadier players over the years and Wagner, who has a great track record here, performed nicely last week to finish 23rd and fits this mould. Gomez, meanwhile, is a two time tour winner who is in need of some big weeks to make the Fedex Play Offs and is fancied to build on last weeks 13th place.