Best bets for the Genesis Scottish Open

July 11, 2023 03:33 PM

Genesis Scottish Open

Sepp Straka was +3 after 16 holes during Thursday's first round. On Sunday, he finished -21 and won his second career PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic. Straka, a pre-tournament price of 55-1, at one point was -23 and had a five-shot lead before carding a double bogey on 18. Brendon Todd and Alex Smalley (70-1 this week), one of our tips in last week's column, were not able to walk through the door that Straka left open and settled for T-2 at -19. Adam Schenk, another our tips last week, got going too late in the final round and settled for T-4 along with Ludvig Aberg (55-1 this week), who posted his career-best finish in just his fourth PGA Tour start.

This week, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour have two co-sanctioned events — the Genesis Scottish Open and the Barbasol Championship. The Scottish Open is where many of the players already qualified for next week's British Open at Royal Liverpool will elect to compete.

Scottie Scheffler (+750) is the current OWGR No. 1 and although he missed the cut here last year, he has finished top 5 or better in each of his last six events. Rory McIlroy (+850) is next week's favorite in the British Open at Royal Liverpool, where he won the Claret Jug in 2014. He also comes in on good form with five top-9-or-better finishes in his last five events.

At 14-1, Xander Schauffele returns to Scotland as the defending champion of this event and his Ryder and Presidents Cups partner Patrick Cantlay finished fourth here last year.

Rickie Fowler (18-1), fresh off ending his winless drought in Detroit two weeks ago and a trip to Wimbledon with his close friends Jordan Spieth (22-1) and Justin Thomas (45-1) and their spouses, won this event at a different venue (Castle Stuart) in 2015 and was a co-runner up to McIlroy at Royal Liverpool in 2014. Viktor Hovland is also priced at 18-1 along with Fowler.

Matt Fitzpatrick (22-1) lost here in a playoff two years ago to Min Woo Lee (35-1) and followed that with a sixth last year. Tommy Fleetwood (22-1), also off his own trip to Wimbledon with Justin Rose (45-1), lost in a 2020 playoff here to Aaron Rai (80-1). Fleetwood also finished fourth here last year.

Tyrrell Hatton (25-1) has three top-5 finishes in his last six events and his Ryder Cup teammate Shane Lowry (40-1) makes his debut this week at Renaissance.

In all, nine of the top 11 in the OWGR are in Scotland with the exceptions of Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith, who won the LIV Golf event in London last weekend.

The Event

​The Genesis Scottish Open has been a signature event on the European Tour (now DP World Tour) since 1986. It is part of the five-event Rolex Series on the DP World Tour. However, this year, it becomes a co-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour. Genesis Motor, LLC, which is the luxury car division of South Korean vehicle manufacturer Hyundai, takes over as the event’s title sponsor. With the new sponsor and the partnership with the PGA Tour, the purse increases to $9 million.

The Scottish Open began in 1972 as part of the inaugural European Tour season but ceased to exist as an event from 1974 to 1985. In 1986 the tournament returned and has been a mainstay on the schedule ever since, rotating around many of the great courses in Scotland. Previous winners include Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Ian Woosnam, Justin Rose, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Retief Goosen and Tom Lehman.

Aside from the prestige of winning this event and the competitive preparation of playing in a competitive event on a links-style course the week preceding the British Open, like last week, the top three finishers (who are not already qualified) earn spots into the British Open.

The Course

The Renaissance Golf Club will play host for a fourth consecutive year and is scheduled to host through 2026. The course is in Dirleton, North Berwick, Scotland, which is about 20 miles east of the capital city Edinburgh. Renaissance was designed in 2008 by American Tom Doak, and the course is located next to Muirfield, which is a regular track in the British Open rotation. It is a modern links course that is going to play at 7,237 yards for the par-70.

Despite sitting on Scotland’s “Golf Coast” in the stretch of land between Muirfield and Archerfield Links, the Renaissance Club isn’t a historic links track, instead it was manufactured from an old pine forest and is considered by purists as a more links-like track than a pure, classic links. It is more of a hybrid of a parklands, heathlands and links course. Only four holes are by the North Sea coastline at Renaissance, which has undulating terrain, thick rough off the fairway and numerous wooded areas. Its links-style qualities include firm turf (Collin Morikawa mentioned how firm it was two years ago and how he had difficulty getting irons through his shots), deep pot bunkers, and greens that encourage the use of the ground game.

The track plays relatively easily in calmer wind conditions. The 2020 Scottish Open was played in the fall due to COVID-19 postponement and it featured rainy and windy conditions that led to the tournament playing a little over two strokes more difficult than the 2019 and 2021 versions. In 2019 and 2021, the average round score was -1.87 strokes under par in calmer conditions. In 2020 and 2022, the average round score was +0.96 over par in windy/rainy conditions. These two extremes provided a nearly three-stroke difference.​

The fairways are firm and fast and exclusively red fescue. The rough, also fescue, can measure anywhere from three to five inches. The large greens (7,000 square feet — eighth largest on the PGA Tour) are fescue-based, like those used at Castle Stuart in this event in the recent past, as well as at Royal Birkdale for the 2017 British Open. The greens will roll at only 10 on the stimpmeter, so they will be very slow and slower than most of the players in this field have seen all season. The greens here are cut at a minimum of 5 millimeters high. Most PGA Tour greens are typically cut to around 2.5 mm.

There are 10 par-4s with six of them at over 465 yards. The 18th is particularly difficult as it was the only hole on the PGA Tour last season to yield more bogeys/worse (251) than pars (205).

The par-3s are a mix, with the two shorter ones, the sixth and 14th holes yielding lots of birdies, while the three at 200+ yards (9,12 and 17) are all challenging.

All three par-5s are 575 yards or more.

Comparable courses overseas to Renaissance include British Open rotation courses like Royal Birkdale, Royal Portrush, Royal St. George's, Royal Troon and St. Andrews.

Comparable courses stateside include Memorial Park, Chambers Bay, Kiawah Island (Ocean Course), Shinnecock Hills, L.A. Country Club and Trinity Forest.


Recent History

2022: Xander Schauffele (-7/273), Renaissance, 18-1

2021: Min Woo Lee (-18/266), Renaissance, 100-1*

2020: Aaron Rai (-11/273), Renaissance, 50-1**

2019: Bernd Wiesberger (-22/262), Renaissance, 40-1***

2018: Brandon Stone (-20/260), Gullane, 400-1

2017: Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-13/275), Dundonald 50-1****

2016: Alex Noren (-14/274), Castle Stuart, 50-1

2015: Rickie Fowler (-12/268), Gullane, 22-1

2014: Justin Rose (-16/268), Royal Aberdeen, 14-1

2013: Phil Mickelson (-17/261), Castle Stuart, 22-1*****

2012: Jeev Milkha Singh (-17/261), Castle Stuart, 100-1******

2011: Luke Donald (-19/197), Castle Stuart, 10-1*******

2010: Edoardo Molinari (-12/272), Loch Lomond, 70-1

Playoff win over Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Detry - *

Playoff win over Tommy Fleetwood; Event Held in October - **

Playoff win over Benjamin Hebert - ***

Playoff win over Callum Shinkwin - ****

Playoff win over Branden Grace - *****

Playoff win over Francesco Molinari - ******

Weather-shortened event to 54 holes - *******

Note: The 2020 and 2022 events were affected by high winds of 20-35 mph.

Trends and Angles

  • Three of the last four winners finished at least second or better in their previous starts. (2022: Xander Schauffele won the Travelers Championship; 2021: Min Woo Lee T-17 at Irish Open; 2020: Aaron Rai T-2 at Irish Open; 2019: Bernd Wiesberger T-2 Irish Open).
  • In-play betting after Round 1 looks ideal here considering none of the last four event champions have been inside the top 20 after Round 1.

Statistical Analysis

Renaissance rated as the fourth-most difficult course to gain strokes on approach mainly due to the wind last year.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 52.92
  2. Alexander Bjork 45.36
  3. Jorge Campillo 37.08
  4. Joost Luiten 35.64
  5. Alex Smalley 34.56
  6. Yannik Paul 34.20
  7. Xander Schauffele 34.20
  8. Ross Fisher 33.12
  9. Jordan Smith 30.96
  10. Matthew Baldwin 30.96
  11. Dale Whitnell 29.52
  12. Matthew Southgate 28.44
  13. Justin Rose 28.44
  14. Edoardo Molinari 27.72
  15. Aaron Rai 27.36
  16. Wyndham Clark 27.36
  17. Gary Woodland 27
  18. Rickie Fowler 27
  19. Ewen Ferguson 26.64
  20. Corey Conners 26.28
  21. Patrick Cantlay 25.92
  22. Tom Kim 25.56
  23. Shane Lowry 25.20

Nearly half of approach shots at Renaissance come from distances of 175-200 and 200+.

Proximity 175-200 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Rory McIlroy 31'6
  2. Will Gordon 31'6
  3. Xander Schauffele 32'0
  4. Scottie Scheffler 32'3
  5. Austin Eckroat 32'5
  6. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 32'5
  7. Gary Woodland 32'10
  8. Kevin Yu 32'11
  9. Justin Rose 33'0
  10. KH Lee 33'2
  11. Cam Davis 33'5
  12. Justin Thomas 33'6
  13. Sam Ryder 33'7
  14. Callum Tarren 33'9
  15. Alex Smalley 33'10
  16. Sungjae Im 33'10
  17. Patrick Rodgers 34'0

Proximity 200-225 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 33'0
  2. Max Homa 33'8
  3. Gary Woodland 34'1
  4. Tom Kim 35'9
  5. Cam Davis 36'2
  6. Kevin Yu 36'3
  7. Will Gordon 37'0
  8. Viktor Hovland 37'5
  9. Mackenzie Hughes 37'6
  10. J.T. Poston 37'7
  11. Aaron Rai 37'8
  12. Sahith Theegala 38'0
  13. Patrick Cantlay 38'1
  14. Tyrrell Hatton 38'1
  15. Justin Rose 38'5
  16. Harrison Endycott 38'10
  17. Corey Conners 38'11
  18. Kurt Kitayama 39'0

Note: Feet and inches from the hole per average shot from the distance.

While it is fairly easy to gain strokes off the tee at Renaissance and there is not much penalty for missing fairways, recent results have indicated that it is not just biased toward longer hitters.

Strokes Gained Off The Tee (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 42.12
  2. Rory McIlroy 37.44
  3. Adrian Meronk 32.76
  4. Viktor Hovland 31.32
  5. Patrick Cantlay 30.24
  6. Garrick Higgo 29.88
  7. Kevin Yu 29.52
  8. Ludvig Aberg 27.72
  9. Calum Hill 26.64
  10. Byeong Hun An 25.92
  11. Wil Besseling 24.84
  12. Romain Langasque 24.48
  13. Kalle Samooja 24.48
  14. Corey Conners 23.40
  15. SH Kim 23.40
  16. Ross Fisher 22.32
  17. Cam Davis 22.32
  18. David Law 21.96
  19. Guido Migliozzi 21.96
  20. Gary Woodland 21.96
  21. Paul Waring 21.96

Aside from the bunkers, there are always some tricky spots around the greens on true links courses, or in Renaissance's case, a links-style course.

Strokes Gained: Around The Green (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Marcel Schneider 24.84
  2. Aaron Baddeley 24.12
  3. Rickie Fowler 21.6
  4. Harry Hall 20.16
  5. Scottie Scheffler 18.72
  6. Eric Cole 18.36
  7. Matthew Jordan 17.28
  8. Alex Noren 16.56
  9. Max Kieffer 16.56
  10. Grant Forrest 15.84
  11. Min Woo Lee 15.84
  12. Thorbjorn Olesen 15.48
  13. S.H. Kim 15.12
  14. Scott Jamieson 14.76
  15. Alexander Bjork 13.68
  16. Luke Donald 13.32
  17. Edoardo Molinari 12.24
  18. Jorge Campillo 12.24
  19. Joseph Bramlett 11.88
  20. Daniel Gavins 11.88

Like all links courses, Renaissance features deep and difficult pot bunkers that explain why up-and-down percentage from the sand has been so low. The sand is a bit more like gravel in the U.K.

Sand Save Percentage

  1. Robby Shelton 67.03%
  2. Justin Rose 66.67%
  3. S.H. Kim 64.66%
  4. Sungjae Im 64.20%
  5. Danny Willett 64.18%
  6. Byeong Hun An 64.04%
  7. Cam Davis 63.77%
  8. Jordan Spieth 62.82%
  9. Ben Griffin 62.28%
  10. Andrew Putnam 62.26%
  11. Patrick Rodgers 61.46%
  12. Sahith Theegala 61.33%
  13. Brian Harman 60.61%
  14. Adam Scott 59.68%
  15. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 58.82%
  16. Matt Fitzpatrick 58.82%
  17. Luke Donald 58.54%
  18. Justin Thomas 58.21%
  19. Tommy Fleetwood 57.97%
  20. J.T. Poston 57.75%

Last year, Renaissance was the hardest course on the PGA Tour in putting difficulty inside five feet, which was largely due to the wind. With potential windy conditions again, putting is also difficult from inside 10 feet.

Putting Inside 10 Feet

  1. Matt Fitzpatrick
  2. Sam Burns
  3. Taylor Montgomery
  4. Andrew Putnam
  5. Patrick Cantlay
  6. Justin Rose
  7. Aaron Baddeley
  8. Brian Harman
  9. Sam Ryder
  10. Mackenzie Hughes
  11. Eric Cole
  12. Austin Eckroat
  13. Ben Taylor
  14. S.H. Kim
  15. Max Homa
  16. Will Gordon
  17. Rory McIlroy
  18. Danny Willett
  19. Sungjae Im
  20. Sahith Theegala

Renaissance is a course with larger greens and a fair number of putts will be from off the green or from long distance, so lag putting is an important skill to have in your tool bag.

Approach Putt Performance

  1. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  2. Shane Lowry
  3. Ben Griffin
  4. Jordan Spieth
  5. Scottie Scheffler
  6. Aaron Baddeley
  7. Alex Noren
  8. Andrew Putnam
  9. Ben Taylor
  10. Byeong Hun An
  11. Corey Conners
  12. Doug Ghim
  13. Eric Cole
  14. Kevin Yu
  15. K.H.Lee
  16. Luke List
  17. Max Homa
  18. Nick Taylor
  19. Patrick Cantlay
  20. Patrick Rodgers
  21. Sungjae Im
  22. Tyrrell Hatton

With these Renaissance greens being some of the slowest these players see all season; it can be easy to three-putt and pile up bogeys (especially in windy conditions) if the speed is not judged properly. Last year’s tournament saw one of the highest three-putt rates on tour at 4.91%.

Three-Putt Avoidance

  1. Sam Ryder
  2. Scottie Scheffler
  3. Eric Cole
  4. Aaron Baddeley
  5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  6. Andrew Putnam
  7. Thomas Detry
  8. Alex Noren
  9. Seamus Power
  10. Mackenzie Hughes
  11. Rory McIlroy
  12. Rickie Fowler
  13. Nick Taylor
  14. Matt Fitzpatrick
  15. K.H. Lee
  16. Taylor Montgomery
  17. Adam Scott
  18. Sahith Theegala
  19. Tyrrell Hatton
  20. Patrick Rodgers

Bogey Avoidance

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Tom Kim
  3. Brian Harman
  4. Andrew Putnam
  5. Patrick Cantlay
  6. Aaron Baddeley
  7. Sungjae Im
  8. Xander Schauffele
  9. Matt Fitzpatrick
  10. Rickie Fowler
  11. Thomas Detry
  12. Max Homa
  13. Wyndham Clark
  14. Tyrrell Hatton
  15. Eric Cole
  16. Kevin Yu
  17. Tom Hoge
  18. Danny Willett
  19. Alex Smalley
  20. K.H. Lee

Note: Rankings courtesy of


Patrick Cantlay (14-1, DraftKings)

Cantlay finished T-4 in this event last year.

While Cantlay has yet to win in 2023, he leads the PGA Tour in Total Driving and Birdie Average, plus is second for par-4 Scoring and Birdie Or Better %.

Cantlay's Ryder and Presidents Cups partner Xander Schauffele won here last year, so he certainly went to school on how to attack this week.

Tyrrell Hatton (20-1, Boyd Sports)

Hatton's last four regular PGA Tour event finishes include third at the Wells Fargo Championship, fifth at the Byron Nelson, 12th at the Memorial Tournament and third at the Canadian Open with a 15th at the PGA Championship and a 27th at the U.S. Open sandwiched around this current run.

He has also gone fifth and third, respectively, in his last two starts the week before a major, so he does not just go through the motions.

Tommy Fleetwood (23-1, Circa Sports)

This year will mark Fleetwood’s fourth start in this event at this venue, and in the three previous visits he has posted a runner-up finish and a fourth last year.

Before a missed cut at the Travelers, Fleetwood finished runner-up in Canada and then T-5 at the U.S. Open.

Min Woo Lee (40-1, DraftKings)

The 2021 Scottish Open champion has two top-10s and no finish lower than 15th in his last three events.

Justin Rose (58-1, Circa Sports)

An albeit disappointing fourth at the British Masters two weeks ago added to Rose's comeback year, which included a victory at Pebble Beach earlier this February.

While he was just 69th on debut here last year, Rose is a former champion in this event, having won the 2014 edition at Royal Aberdeen, so the links pedigree is there.

Aaron Rai (80-1, Bet Rivers)

Rai, the 2020 winner here, has two top-10s and three top-12s in his last five events.

Although distance is never a disadvantage, accurate hitters can win here, and Rai ranks sixth on tour for Driving Accuracy.

Alexander Bjork (125-1, PointsBet)

This season, Bjork has finished inside the top 10 on the DP World Tour seven times, including in his last four events.

The Swede sat inside the top 10 going into Sunday in each of the past two visits to this event and also has shot 63 twice at Renaissance in his four starts.

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