Scottish Open Betting Preview

English: Golfer Ernie Els walks up the fairway...

English: Golfer Ernie Els walks up the fairway at the 2008 U.S. Open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his last tune-up before defending his Open Championship title, Ernie Els heads up the field as the European Tour heads to Castle Stuart for the 2013 Scottish Open.
 
2013 Scottish Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: Castle Stuart Golf Links
  • Location: Inverness, Scotland
  • Yardage: 7,193 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Jeev Milkha Singh
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjorn

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Sunday – 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline This Week
 
Phil Mickelson has made a point of playing the week before majors for a long time now, and for him, there’s no better preparation for the Open Championship than coming over to Scotland to get a feel for similar type grounds. He’s played the Scottish Open for the last three years, and well, it hasn’t gone great for him in either this event or the Open Championship, but hey, it sounds good in theory. He’s coming off of another cut at the Greenbrier, but had two runner-up finishes prior to that, so you’d have to think that he feels like he’s in good form. Other than that, Els is looking to continue his good form that saw him finish fourth at the U.S. Open, and win his last start in Germany. This will be his last event prior to the Open Championship, where he’s not only defending champion, but also the last man to take the title at Muirfield.
 
Castle Stuart Golf Links
 
Castle Stuart is a gorgeous course with great scenery all throughout, but there are conflicting opinions on the quality of the track itself. Some people look at it as being too easy, with winning scores getting to 19 and 17 under par in the two years that the course has been used, while others are mesmerized by the landscapes and views that the course provides. It is a links golf course, and much like Mickelson, many players feel that it gives them a good bit of practice before heading to the Open Championship, and the tournament will gladly point out that both Darren Clarke and Ernie Els played here the week before their Open wins, but I’m not sure how much that really mattered considering neither of them were close to the lead at any point of the tournament in those years.
 
Since being built by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse in 2009, Castle Stuart has appeared inside the Top 100 courses in the world list done every year by Golf Magazine, ranking as high as number 56. What makes it an intriguing design in general are two distinct features that you don’t usually see in North America: rumple and natural bunkers. Rumple is basically another word for uneven, and their rumpled fairways are certainly something to behold. They provide players with tons of different lies all over the course and will challenge them to use every facet of their game to succeed. The natural bunkers are interesting too, as they are typically placed in spots where you’d prefer to be in one of them than be somewhere else. Usually bunkers are seen as hazards, and they still kinda are here, but they’re not as penal as usual and in most cases, actually help the players out as opposed to hurting them.
 
When the course was being built, a documentary was made about the process. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’ve embedded the video below.
 

Castle Stuart Ethos – Full Version from Castle Stuart Golf on Vimeo.
 
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Ernie Els: We talked about Els a little at the top, and he really is in fine form and he should be rested after taking a few weeks off, but I don’t think he’s going to be overly focused on the tournament this week with his title defense happening next week. He’s going to be preparing for what he thinks will help him win at Muirfield, which is fine, but doesn’t do much for his chances this week. In two previous appearances at Castle Stuart, he’s finished T25 and T52.
  • Henrik Stenson: Stenson’s been close to winning a few times this season on both the European and PGA Tour, and his T8 last year shows that he’s got a good enough track record at the relatively new course. He’s probably the best player in the field from tee-to-green, but the putter usually causes him some trouble.
  • Phil Mickelson: Mickelson is making his first trip overseas of 2013, and he showed last year that much like everywhere else, he has the ability to go low at Castle Stuart. The problem is that his second and third rounds of 64 and 65 were book-ended by rounds of 73 and 74. For a player of his talent, it’s difficult to imagine that he’s only been under par in four of his seven rounds at Castle Stuart.
  • Paul Casey: It’s amazing what a win will do for a guy, as Casey’s first win in over two years has officially put him back on the radar of those who bet on golf. I couldn’t tell you the last time Casey was considered a favourite, and to be honest, he probably shouldn’t be. I don’t think his victory was a fluke by any means, but it’s pretty difficult to believe that he’ll win again so soon. His missed cut here last year doesn’t provide much inspiration either, even though that admittedly came when he was recovering from injury.
  • Thomas Bjorn: Bjorn is on a great run, with five consecutive top-20 finishes, so he has to be considered a threat this week, especially when you consider the tough greens at Castle Stuart and how good of a putter Bjorn is. His track record isn’t great though, missing both cuts here in the last two years.

Suggested Plays
 
Phil Mickelson (Best Odds 21-1 at BETDAQ)
We talked about Mickelson already, and I’ll tell you this: he’s either in the thick of it on Sunday this week, or he misses the cut. I’m taking a chance on him on the basis that the low scores are out there for him, and he’s playing well despite the missed cut at the Greenbrier. It’s also not often that you can get someone of his skill level at 21-1 in a field that isn’t exactly long on high-end talent.
 
Shane Lowry (Best Odds 35-1 at Unibet)
Lowry’s played well here in the past, finishing inside the top-15 in both appearances at Castle Stuart, and he’s coming off of two good tournaments in Germany and Ireland, with the Irish Open yielding a top-5 finish. He’s been on record as saying that he likes links golf, which makes sense considering the way he usually plays on them.
 
Richard Sterne (Best Odds 35-1 at Spreadex)
He’s never played at Castle Stuart before, but he’s coming off of a runner-up finish to Graeme McDowell last week in France and his record indicates that like most golfers, he usually goes through hot and cold runs. After his last runner-up in Dubai, he did go on to win the following week in South Africa, which I’m well aware doesn’t mean that he’s going to do the same thing here, but it is a good omen for him this week.
 
Stephen Gallacher (Best Odds 66-1 at Paddy Power)
Gallacher is one of many Scottish born players in the field this week, and he actually already got some good news. With John Daly pulling out of the Open Championship next week due to elbow surgery, Gallacher is already in the third major of the year. On one hand, that might mean he has less to play for this week, but his track record in his home country is worth taking a chance on. He tied for 24th here last year, and has eleven top-25 finishes in Scotland since 2008.
 
Soren Kjeldsen (Best Odds 70-1 at Betfair)
Kjeldsen has been trending upwards for the last few weeks, ending with a solid T8 last week in France and his T5 at Castle Stuart last year shows that on some level, he enjoys the course. He’s a tremendously short hitter from the tee, but when everything else is going well, like it has been for the last couple of weeks, he’s a threat.
 
Robert Rock (Best Odds 142-1 at BETDAQ)
Yes, he missed the cut last week in France, but he was the runner-up two weeks ago in Ireland, so I’m hoping that there’s still some form left over here. Fired a 65 and 66 in his last two rounds here in 2011. You can do a lot worse than him at 142-1.

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