A Jon Rahm masterclass on Sunday at Lahinch secured him a second Irish Open title and a third Rolex Series title to boot, elevating him back inside the OWGR top-10 into the bargain. When push came to shove, the likes of Robert Rock and Rafa Cabrera-Bello couldn’t stay with the talented Spaniard who also jumps to the top of the Race To Dubai standings following that victory. Jorge Campillo was our only remaining hope heading into the weekend and the 66/1 chance grabbed a slice of the each-way money for us courtesy of a closing pair of birdies.
Onwards we go and this week’s Scottish Open is the final Rolex event until we visit Wentworth in September, so those looking for a Race to Dubai boost will be earmarking this event as one to attack, however with the Open Championship just a week away this will be equally about the elite players getting their games ready for Royal Portush. The annual Open warm-up has once again attracted a decent field with Rory McIlroy headlining, having opted to play this event as opposed to the Irish Open this year. We also have a number of top-class players travelling to Scotland with the likes of Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Matt Wallace, Kevin Kisner, Ian Poulter, Matt Fitzpatrick, Eddie Pepperell, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello all in attendance and looking to hone their games ahead of next week’s main event.
The field for the Open Championship was all but decided last week with Bernd Wiesberger, Robert Rock and Paul Waring all grabbing a late spot at Royal Portrush, however there still remains one final chance to qualify with the top 3 non-exempt finishers inside the top 10 here this week also earning themselves a start next week. Some differing objectives in Scotland then – many will be using this as a warm-up for next week, whereas others will be holding onto the faintest of hopes that a lofty finish can see them gain a late, late entry into golf’s oldest Major.
The Renaissance Club is this week’s host course and once again we’re dealing with a track that’s new to the European Tour with very little tangible course history to draw upon. The Seniors played here for their Scottish Open back in 2017, albeit with different routing and reduced length, with Paul Broadhurst’s -13 total proving good enough in sometime tricky conditions. The final leaderboard is here, although no skill stats were captured to help our cause. The Tom Doak design has also hosted the British Boys Amateur Championship as well as Open Championship qualifying, however most will be seeing this for the first time competitively this week.
Despite sitting on Scotland’s ‘Golf Coast’ in the stretch of land between Muirfield and Archerfield Links, the Renaissance Club isn’t an historic links track – instead it was manufactured from an old pine forest and opened in 2008. Aesthetically it will look linksy on a stretch of land that’s famous for its links tracks and built to a brief to make it appear like it had been there for a century, however for the purists this will be more ‘links-like’ than pure links. Trees and an historic wall complicate matters a little in that respect, balanced with 3 new holes which flank the shore, however with typical deep bunkering, gorse and thick rough, this should still set up as a decent test ahead of The Open.
The par 71 is listed on the European Tour website as playing 7,136 yards for this week’s test, although it can stretch another 200 yards or so depending on the tees used. The fairways have been nipped in since Doak originally built the course and a wet year in Scotland so far has encouraged some thick rough to test the players’ mettle this week. The greens are fescue-based, similar to those used at Castle Stuart in this event in the recent past, as well as at Royal Birkdale for the 2017 Open Championship.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Scottish Open that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event. Please note, this is the first time that the Renaissance Club has hosted this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2018: Brandon Stone, 400/1; 2017: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, 50/1; 2016: Alex Noren, 50/1; 2015: Rickie Fowler, 22/1; 2014: Justin Rose, 14/1; 2013: Phil Mickelson, 22/1; 2012: Jeev Milkha Singh, 100/1; 2011: Luke Donald, 10/1; 2010: Edoardo Molinari, 70/1 . For a summary of winners’ odds on the European Tour since 2010 click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. A damp start on Thursday could worsen to thunderstorms in the afternoon before conditions start to improve towards the weekend. By Saturday it should be dry and pleasantly warm with temperatures peaking in the mid-60s Fahrenheit. Winds are forecast to be light at sub-10mph throughout the 4 days, however this is coastal golf and conditions can change quickly.
Incoming Form: Current form students wouldn’t have taken long to dismiss the chances of Brandon Stone at Gullane with the South African having failed to break the top-60 on any of his previous 7 starts. 400/1 was the reward for punters who managed to overlook his recent finishes.
Prior to that, recent form for all winners of this event since 2010 listed below had been good enough to shortlist them at least, with each Scottish Open champion in that time having recorded a minimum of one top-10 finish in their last 4 starts. In fact you can extend that trend right back to 2002 with the marginal exception of 2004 winner Thomas Levet, however he had finished 8th at Wentworth 5 starts prior and 2nd in Italy a month before that:
- 2018, Brandon Stone: 22/MC/MC/60/65/MC/MC/69
- 2017, Rafa Cabrera-Bello: MC/24/4/MC/4/42/26/MC
- 2016, Alex Noren: 50/6/9/MC/43/12/MC/8
- 2015, Rickie Fowler: 71/12/MC/9/1/30/MC/MC
- 2014, Justin Rose: 14/8/5/4/25/MC/12/1
- 2013, Phil Mickelson: MC/16/54/3/MC/2/2/MC
- 2012, JM Singh: 25/32/27/MC/7/MC/30/46
- 2011, Luke Donald: 4/2/8/4/2/1/7/45
- 2010, Edoardo Molinari: MC/17/13/MC/36/4/47/42
Event Form: The victories of Brandon Stone and Rafa Cabrera-Bello have also flummoxed event form students over the past 2 seasons. Despite this event hopping about in terms of venue, the 6 Scottish Open winners prior to Rafa had also recorded at least one top-10 finish in this event before lifting this trophy. The trend stops at Edoardo Molinari, however there may be something positive in terms of experience of playing in similar conditions with similar grasses in the past – indeed the Italian had finished runner-up on his last start on Scottish soil on the Challenge Tour the previous year and with regards Cabrera-Bello, he’d produced a 4th place finish at the Dunhill Links over the years and a further top-10 at Gleneagles. Even Stone with his poor incoming form had finished 15th at the Dunhill Links on his previous start in Scotland:
- 2018, Brandon Stone: MC
- 2017, Rafa Cabrera-Bello: MC/MC/MC/47/MC/27/41/21
- 2016, Alex Noren: MC/38/67/67/MC/3/MC
- 2015, Rickie Fowler: 8
- 2014, Justin Rose: 37/5/MC/MC/MC/14
- 2013, Phil Mickelson: 35/MC/44/2/38/MC/58/16
- 2012, JM Singh: 37/MC/MC/43/9/MC/49/42
- 2011, Luke Donald: 5/2/4
- 2010, Edoardo Molinari: 54/MC
My kneejerk reaction having seen Lahinch in all its splendour on TV last week, and reading around the Renaissance Club for this week, is that last week’s test in Ireland will serve as a better warm-up for Royal Portrush than this week. That’s not to take anything away from this layout which also looks stunning on one of Scotland’s most famous stretches of linksland, however for a pure links test I suspect that Lahinch will prove to have been a better correlation.
With only specification to go on once again, I’ve gone for a small team of players who I thinks can feature this week. The forecast doesn’t look too bad so I’ve focussed more on players who are hitting greens of late as opposed to a magical short game, plus some success in this part of the world is never a bad asset in my view.
My selections are as follows: