There is plenty of interest and intrigue surrounding the European Tour this week as Paul Lawrie hosts a match play tournament in his home city of Aberdeen. Murcar Links, set on the North Sea coast, is the venue where 64 players – a mix of European Tour stalwarts and invitations – will battle it out in a straight knock-out format.
This is the third week of Scottish links golf that we’ve seen in the past month coming as it does soon after the Scottish Open and the Open Championship. Murcar is as true a test of links golf as either of the previous two tournaments. It’s not a long course at a shade over 6,400 yards but it is by no means easy. Thick gorse and rough surround the fairways and if you miss the greens in the wrong place the ball will trickle agonisingly away from the putting surfaces. There may be some big swings in matches here as the player who finds himself behind will have opportunities to get aggressive so don’t think that an early lead is fatal.
There is a big Scottish challenge present this week and it is led at the top of the outright market by Marc Warren. Warren hasn’t had a great season by his own high standards but he’s a three-time winner on the European Tour and his best result of the year came at the Scottish Open where he finished tied for fourth. Warren has all the short game skills required should he miss the greens this week but his accurate iron play means that will be a rarity. He knows all there is to know about links golf and generally raises his game when playing in Scotland. At 20/1 with Coral, Warren can certainly make the home fans happy.
Tyrrell Hatton will be hoping to spoil the Scottish party. The 23-year-old Englishman has can almost taste that first win on the European Tour having come so close to breaking his duck at the Omega European Masters. He ended up on his own in third place after a few loose shots punished him. Errors can often be less damaging in match play compared to stroke play and if Hatton replicates the sort of six, seven or eight hole stretches of excellence that he went on last week he’ll blow his opponents away. He’s a 22/1 shot with Bet365 and could go all the way this week.
Maximilian Kieffer has yet to miss a cut on the European Tour this season. His all-round game has held up to whatever challenge the various courses have thrown at him so far and he will be very difficult to beat in a one-on-one match. BetVictor go a standout 33/1 about his chances which is great value for a player on such a good run. His top 10 finish at the Scottish Open shows that he is more than capable of standing up to the challenges of links golf. The rest of the field will consider him a dangerous draw as he will carry on grinding no matter what the current score. Back him each-way so you get a pay-out should he reach the semi-finals.