There is nothing quite like links golf. We get used to watching players smashing it miles are pristine, beautiful American courses but this week’s Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open is a completely different event.
The winds around Castle Stuart Golf Links are forecast to really whip up, meaning that the players will have to have brilliant control of their golf ball to have any chance of joining a list of winners that includes the likes of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Justin Rose.
Castle Stuart is a par 72 layout which can stretch to the best part of 7,200 yards from the back tees. The tournament organisers are unlikely to have it playing that long this week though because distance is far from the course’s number one defence.
It is a true test of links golf with thick, punishing rough, pot bunkers and run off areas around the greens which require a deft touch to avoid. In the words of course designer, Mark Parsinen, “Castle Stuart itself reflects an appreciation that the game of golf is more about error and recovery than it is about perfection.” The player who makes the fewest mistakes is likely to end up on top of the pile come Sunday evening.
When looking for a winning bet for the Scottish Open, it is important to concentrate on top class players who have a proven ability to get it done at testing links courses. A positive mental attitude is also vital as it is going to get ugly out there at times – bouncing back from mistakes is crucial.
Of the pre-tournament favourites, the player who stands out most is Brande Grace. The South African may have grown up thousands of miles away from Inverness but he has a real knack for links golf. His long game is world class but it is around the greens that he really stands out.
Grace’s ability to get himself up and down out of trouble has been a major factor in his rise to the top 10 of the world rankings. He showed all of his short game ability when winning the Alfred Dunhill Links and in finishing runner up to Phil Mickelson at Castle Stuart in 2013. He is well fancied for a reason so back Grace to win at 12/1 with Bet365.
The Scottish galleries will have their favourites for the week but few players are going to get as much support as Russell Knox. The 31-year-old was born in Inverness so he is intimately aware of the conditions that the place can throw up. Knox is doing all he can to get a place in Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team and he can make that dream closer to a reality by winning this week at a generous 35/1 with Paddy Power.
The final player to back this week is Thomas Pieters. The young Belgian has a reputation for being one of the longest hitters on the European Tour but he is much more than an out and out bomber. His win at the KLM Open showed that he has what it takes to cope with blustery conditions, while his performance at the Open de France showed he’s over his hand injury so back him each way at 50/1 with BetVictor.