Golf fans in Scotland are right in the middle of their best time of the year. A fortnight ago the European Tour hosted the Scottish Open at the wonderful Castle Stuart Golf Links. Last week the galleries were treated to perhaps the best Open Championship of all time and this week they’ve got the chance to see masters of the game compete for the Senior Open at Carnoustie.
Just like the Open, the Senior Open is always held at genuine tests of links golf. That is certainly an apt description of Carnoustie. The 7,295 yard course is as long a layout as you will find on the Senior European Tour. Players on the Senior Tour like to use hybrid clubs to approach the greens on long courses but they tend to launch the ball high into the air which is not ideal on windy links courses. The distance will be a concern for some (the 255 yard par three 16th will be particularly tough) but it is far from the only defence of Carnoustie.
Like many other traditional links courses, Carnoustie plays host to a number of very difficult, deep bunkers. These are strategically placed around the greens and on the edges of the fairways and should be considered genuine hazards. There are windy water hazards ready to catch any poorly struck shot or even good shots as the ball rolls up the firm fairways and the weather will have a huge impact on scoring.
Given the size of the challenge posed by Carnoustie, it makes sense to bet only on players who have a proven ability to get round the course without being eaten alive. That is why you will see Bernhard Langer at the top of the bookies’ outright markets across the board. The German star won the last Senior Open when it was held at Carnoustie with a quite remarkable score of -5. He is a perennial competitor on the Senior Tour who knows just how to score at links courses. He will not allow the troughs to overly frustrate him and will not get carried away by the peaks so is the man to beat at 4/1 with Betfred.
Tom Watson is another man with a good history at Carnoustie. He won the Open here in 1975 and although he’s not quite the same golfer now, he remains a very competitive player on the Senior Tour. Watson is a clever strategist, has the ability to hit a low ball flight to keep it out of the worst of the wind and with 79 professional wins to his name, he knows how to overcome the nerves of the closing stretch. At 40/1 with Bet365, Watson is well worth backing.
Mark O’Meara made the cut at last week’s Open to the delight of his many, many friends in the game. The experienced American carefully picks and chooses the events that he plays in and will feel that his game is in perfect shape for a battle with Carnoustie. He’s an Open champion and at odds of 50/1 with Sky Bet he looks a great each way selection.