The Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open is one of the best preparations for a Major championship available. For the past few years the tournament organisers have ensured that the Scottish Open is played on links courses to give the field plenty of practice playing in the wind, hitting hard fairways and finding difficult greens ahead of the Open Championship next week.
Host venue, the Gullane Golf Club, has created a championship course from 16 holes of their Number One Course and two from the Number Two course, making a stunning links track and a worthy test here. The 156 players in the field will have to negotiate pot bunkers, wispy rough and the changeable weather which is forecast over the weekend. Similar challenges await at St Andrews. The winner here will not necessarily be able to repeat the feat one week later but it is a fantastic opportunity to practice the shots necessary for success at The Open.
This is no run of the mill European Tour event. There are 29 Ryder Cup players in the field and eight Major champions. Crowd favourite Phil Mickelson is the shortest priced American and looks set to have another good week on a links course. In 2013 Mickelson followed up winning this tournament at Castle Stuart by claiming his first Open Championship title at Muirfield. Mickelson loves Scotland and the Scots love him. He is able to move the ball both ways which will be important in the gusty wind and his short game is still one of the marvels of the modern game. As ever with Phil, there will be plenty of ups and downs (literally and metaphorically) but with three top four finishes in his last six events he looks to be in good enough form and touch to back at 20/1 with Coral.
Such is the strength of the field this week that it would be all too easy to overlook some of the stalwarts of the European Tour. Tyrell Hatton can now count himself among that number having firmly established himself on Tour in only his second season. The Englishman had a real run at winning the Open de France last week but ultimately came up short, finishing up just outside the top 10. His best finish this season came at Royal County Down, one of the most demanding links tracks you will ever find. Having already qualified for the Open, Hatton can have a real crack at winning his first European Tour event and can be backed each way at 80/1 with Ladbrokes – great value.
Another player worth looking at based on his form in the Irish Open is Soren Kjeldsen. He won the trophy that week in what was a very strong field and followed that up by finishing second at the Nordea Masters. Scoring will be easier this week so he’s not going to win with a score of two under par but there are only two par fives this week and few holes that will pose too much of a distance challenge for the Dane, who has been ranked a 60/1 shot with Betfred. That looks too good a price to turn down for an each way bet and he’ll be among our bets this week, although Mickleosn remains our top tip.