No sooner has one of the European Tour’s flagship events come to an end and it is time for another one, as attention moves from the parklands of Surrey to the beauty of the Fife coast in Scotland for The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Over on the PGA Tour meanwhile we head from Mississippi to California for the Safeway Open.
Both events have cracking fields on display so it promises to be a great week of action.
Starting with the Alfred Dunhill Links, an event that takes a pro-am format, the first three days will see three courses, St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, used in rotation. With amateurs in the field the courses are set up far more favourably compared to when the Open comes to town and how ‘gettable’ all three courses are really comes down to the weather.
A strong field is headed up by Rory McIlroy (5/1) and Jon Rahm (15/2). Also on display are Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and a ‘fresh from victory’ Danny Willett. Like last week we have to start off by deciding how to view Rory, are we with him or against him?
Our stance last week that he could well be rusty coming off a break proved to be the right one, as ultimately a poor day one cost him any real chance of victory. However despite that slow start Rory went on to finish ninth and is sure to have ‘come on for the run’.
What puts me off Rory this week though is the fact that he is yet to taste victory in this event in six starts. In addition, playing alongside his father my suspicion is that he may still be in ‘end of term mode’ before he resets for an end of year push.
My other reason for not siding with Rory this week, or indeed Rahm, is that the forecast calls for 20mph+ winds, and when you throw this in with the vagaries of links courses I would want more than single figure odds for my money.
So, with the ‘big two’ swerved I shall instead turn to Tommy Fleetwood (16/1) to lead as our headline pick, with my view being that the laid back pro-am format may be just what the Englishman needs to return to winning ways.
Over recent years Tommy has become one of the leading players on the world stage however despite regular high finishes the Southport man has not tasted victory since Abu Dhabi in January last year, and this is something he will be desperate to rectify.
60th at Wentworth, Tommy will be right back in his element this week on a links test in an event he has performed excellently in over the years and I am happy to take the 16/1 on offer.
Next up for me is Haotong Li (50/1). It’s been a quiet summer for the Chinese star, however the same thing could have been said this time last year before he finished fifth in this event. Li has shown in his time on tour how much he enjoys links golf and I am happy to chance that a return to the coast reignites his season.
With the forecast as it is I will speculate at bigger odds for my remaining picks and the first of these at three figures is Frenchman Romain Langasque. Langasque won the British Amateur championship at Carnoustie and was also third at the Scottish Open in the summer so he clearly enjoys his time north of the border and I can see another big week for him on the links ahead.
Finally, while I may end up kicking myself for not including Robert McIntyre for the second week running, at three times the odds I will instead chance another Scotsman, Richie Ramsay (100/1). Ramsay has performed well here in the past and looked in great touch at Wentworth last week and he is fancied to go well.
While Scott is making his debut on the 7,166yd par 72, it looks a course perfect for his ball striking prowess.
Moore, meanwhile, was second here last year, and at a time of year during which he has had most of his success, he is fancied for a big week.