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SCOTLAND DRAWS CELEBRITY-FILLED FIELD

By Wes Reynolds  () 

The European Tour’s answer to the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am takes place in Scotland this week as a star-studded field of professionals and celebrities take part in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Celebrities in the field include Justin Timberlake (partnered with Justin Rose), Bill Murray, Wladimir Klitschko and numerous English and European former soccer, rugby and cricket stars. The tournament favorite is Rory McIlroy, partnering with his father Gerry for the pro-am, at 11/2. Jon Rahm, off a runner-up finish in the BMW PGA Championship last week in Wentworth, makes his first appearance in this event at 7/1. Rose follows on the odds board at 12/1. Other top players in the field include Tommy Fleetwood (16/1) and reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry and Tony Finau

— both at 20/1. Danny Willett, last week’s winner in

Wentworth, and Bernd Wiesberger slot in at 25/1.

The Tournament

This event is structured very similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and was started in 2001. Each professional partners with an amateur for the pro-am portion of the event and plays on a three-course rotation including The Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie Golf Links and Kingsbarns Golf Links. After each pair has played each course, there is a 54-hole cut made of the top 60 professionals and the top 20 pro-am pairs. These players will all play at St. Andrews on Sunday. The wind can blow and wreak havoc here and cool temperatures in the mid 50s are expected all week.

The Courses

The Old Course at St. Andrews is known as the “Home of Golf” and its history dates back to the 15th century. It has hosted more Open Championships than any other course (29) and currently hosts it every five years. The 7,307 yard, par 72 has a peculiar setup of 14 par-4s and just two par-3s and two par-5s. St. Andrews features 7 double greens with huge, fescue/bentgrass putting surfaces. The 17th Road Hole, with its notorious bunker, and the closing 18th, which features the Swilcan Bridge and the Valley of Sin, are the most famous and iconic closing holes on the planet. Ross Fisher set the course record of 61 here in 2017. In the first three days of the tournament, the pins will be much easier for the professionals and amateurs but will be set up a lot tougher after the 54-hole cut.

Carnoustie Golf Links will be the toughest course of the three in the Dunhill Links rota. It usually scores about around two strokes higher than the others.

Carnoustie plays as a Par 72 of 7,345 yards for this event and hosted the Open Championship (plays as a Par 71 for the major) eight times, most recently in 2018 which was won by Francesco Molinari (-8; 276). The course record is 63 set by Tommy Fleetwood in the 2017 event. Carnoustie can also present an interesting betting angle if you have in-play wagering available. Typically you will find good value on the players who play Carnoustie first on Thursday as the players get the toughest course out of the way first.

Kingsbarns Golf Links, located six miles south of St. Andrews, will play as the easiest course. It plays as a Par 72 of 7,227 yards so it is the shortest of the three. Unlike its cohorts in the Dunhill Links rota, Kingsbarns is a relatively new course and was designed in 2000 by Kyle Phillips, who has spent years under the tutelage of Robert Trent Jones Jr. Branden Grace set the course record of 60 in the 2012 event before going onto victory.

The Trends

Since this event debuted back in 2001, only three winners (2016: Tyrrell Hatton, 2014: Oliver Wilson, 2004: Stephen Gallacher) won their maiden European Tour event here. In addition, 13 of the 18 winners here have been from the United Kingdom (2018: Lucas Bjerregaard, 2015: Thorbjorn Olesen, 2012: Branden Grace, 2010: Martin Kaymer, 2008: Robert Karlsson are the exceptions). Eight of the last 11 winners had won an event in the current or previous calendar years and seven of the last 11 winners had a top 10 finish in this event prior to their victories.

Recent History/Winners

2018: Lucas Bjerregaard -15/273 (50/1)

2017: Tyrrell Hatton -24/264 (22/1)

2016: Tyrrell Hatton -23/265 (66/1)

2015: Thorbjorn Olesen -18/270 (200/1)

2014: Oliver Wilson -17/271 (500/1)

2013: David Howell -23/265 (125/1)*

2012: Branden Grace -22/266 (50/1)

2011: Michael Hoey -22/266 (250/1)

2010: Martin Kaymer -17/271 (16/1)

*Playoff won in 2013 by David Howell over Peter Uihlein.

Selections

Tommy Fleetwood 16/1

He disappointed last week, finishing 60th at Wentworth last week, but he’s back on his bread and butter playing links golf here. He’s finished in the Top 5 in four of eight appearances here including a runner-up last year and in 2014. Recall the last time he was on a links layout, Fleetwood finished as the runner-up in the Open at Royal Portrush earlier this summer. Tommy has the course record of 63 at Carnoustie, the most arduous course in the rota this week and at one point held the course record of 62 at St. Andrews.

Shane Lowry 20/1

He understandably had a couple week hangover after winning the Open at Royal Portrush. Finishes of T52 and T48 in his two FedEx Cup events indicated some rust, but prior to last week, he had taken a month off. Lowry looked refreshed from his time off last week as he finished T11 at Wentworth including a bogey-free weekend. Although he missed the cut here last year, Lowry has made it to Sunday on eight of 10 occasions, including finishes of 3rd and 6th

in 2013 and 2014. The Irishman is also the current leader by a hair in the Race to Dubai and now looks to have put celebrating having the Claret Jug behind him and focusing on the task at hand.

Matthias Schwab 50/1

While his Austrian countryman Bernd Wiesberger has gained the headlines returning to form with two wins this season, Schwab has quietly had a very good year in his second season on the European Tour. Schwab has six top 10 finishes this season and before last week’s respectable 28th at Wentworth, he had finishes of 2-8-5 in his prior three starts. He was 10th here on debut last season and his excellent scrambling (2nd on tour at 65.7%) and solid ball striking game (16th GIR, 20th SG: Tee to Green) could make him a player here.

Robert MacIntyre 50/1

The young Scotsman would love to break his maiden here essentially at home. He has four second-place finishes in the last calendar year (Foshan Open on the Challenge Tour last October, back-to-backs at the British Masters and Denmark and three weeks ago at the Porsche European Open). The links pedigree is readily apparent considering he T6 at the Open earlier this summer amidst very tough weather conditions on Sunday.

Romain Langasque 80/1

The Frenchman has six top 6 finishes in the last calendar year since gaining his first professional win on the Challenge Tour last September. Last time he teed it up in Scotland, Langasque finished 3rd at the Scottish Open. A 74 on Friday took him out of contention last week at Wentworth but he shot 70-67 on the weekend to finish a respect,able T17.

Safeway Open

The Safeway Open began as the Fry’s Electronics Open back in 2007 and was held in Scottsdale, AZ. In 2010, it was moved just east of San Jose before settling at its current home in Napa Valley in 2014. The event has grown over the years and has its best-ever field this year. Justin Thomas (7/1), Patrick Cantlay (10/1), Hideki Matusyama (16/1), Adam Scott (16/1) and Bryson DeChambeau (20/1) are the event headliners. The next tier includes Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im — both at 25/1, Byeong-Hun An, Francesco Molinari, Brandt Snedeker

— all at 30/1. Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk also make appearances here this week along with Fred Couples, John Daly and Tony Romo. Two long-time PGA Tour veterans also return this week from long injury absences with Graham DeLaet (2 years) and Bo Van Pelt (3.5 years) teeing it up.

The Course

The Silverado Country Club was opened in 1957 and redesigned in 1966 by Robert Trent Jones Jr. before Johnny Miller and Troon Golf Design gave it another makeover in 2011. Silverado’s North Course is a traditional classic and tight parklands that plays as a Par 72 of 7,166 yards. The poa annua greens are relatively slow (11 stimpmeter) and the course overall provides a solid, all-around test of a player’s entire golf game. The fairways are on the tight side and are difficult to hit – 4th, 3rd and 6th most difficult across 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Recent History/Winners

2018: Kevin Tway -14/274 (66/1)*

2017: Brendan Steele -15/273 (33/1)

2016: Brendan Steele -18/270 (50/1)

2015: Emiliano Grillo -15/273 (50/1)*

2014: Sang-moon Bae -15/273 (150/1)

2013: Jimmy Walker -17/267 (30/1)

2012: Jonas Blixt -16/268 (28/1)

2011: Bryce Molder -17/267 (40/1)

2010: Rocco Mediate -15/269 (150/1)

If there was a key stat for the winners over the last five years at Silverado, it would have to be scrambling. Tway (1st), Steele (7th and 4th), Grillo (5th), Bae (3rd) all ranked very highly in getting up and down during their winning weeks here.

*Playoff wins in 2018 by Kevin Tway over Ryan Moore & Brandt Snedeker; 2015 by Emiliano Grillo over Kevin Na

Note that the 2010-2013 events were played at CordeValle Golf Club, also a Robert Trent Jones Jr design.

Selections

Hideki Matsuyama 16/1

He hasn’t won in two seasons but trended well at the end of the year with a 3rd at the BMW Championship carding two rounds of 63. A poor 2nd round 75 ended his chances at the TOUR Championship but did post two 66s at a tough East Lake course. It’s actually been the short game that’s been carrying him lately and we know that he’s one of the best ball strikers in the world. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. Matsuyama has two solid finishes in two trips here to Silverado (3rd — 2014, 17th — 2015).

Sungjae Im 25/1

Im has to put the disappointment of losing in the playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship last week behind him. His first PGA Tour win is coming sooner rather than later. The incoming form is terrific with five Top 20s in his last six starts (2-19-15-11-

38-6). He was 6th in the field in SG: Tee to Green here last year which led to a 4th-place finish in his Silverado debut.

Kevin Na 40/1

Na is a true horse for course here. He has finishes of 2nd and 7th here. Solid finish of 14th at the Greenbrier after four weeks off.

Ryan Moore 40/1

Lost in a playoff here last season to Kevin Tway. Has never finished worse than 17th in three trips to Napa. This is around time of the calendar year where he plays his best golf. All five of his PGA Tour wins have come in August or later in the year.

Bronson Burgoon 80/1

Burgoon has three top 6s and five top 20s in his last six starts. He finished outside the FedEx Cup 125 so had to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to keep his card, but that seems to have given him confidence.

Doc Redman 150/1

Two made cuts to start his 2019-2020 PGA Tour season. He has ranked 16th and 12th respectively in SG: Approach in the last two weeks.

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