Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Betting Preview

The OId Course (Courtesy: MrPessimist)

The OId Course (Courtesy: MrPessimist)

One of the best tournaments of the year happens this week on the European Tour, as three of Scotland’s best courses play host to the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Fact Sheet

  • Courses: Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St. Andrews
  • Location: Fife, Scotland
  • Yardage: Carnoustie (7412 yards, par 72), Kingsbarns (7150 yards, par 72), Old Course (7279, par 72)
  • Defending Champion: Branden Grace
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Ross Fisher, Paul Casey and Simon Dyson

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Sunday – 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline This Week
The key storyline this week really revolves around the completely different nature of the tournament. The Dunhill is something that you don’t see very often in that the event is played across three courses, all of which are considered some of the finest links golf available. The format of the tournament is as follows, courtesy of the official tournament website:

The championship will be played over 72 holes of stroke play with one 18 hole round being played each day. There will be 168 Professionals and 168 amateurs taking part in the event.

Played in teams of two, comprising of one professional and one amateur, the competitors will play each of the three courses in rotation over the first three days with the final round being played over the Old Course at St Andrews. After three rounds the field will be reduced to the Top-60 Professionals and those tying for 60th place and the leading 20 teams.

There will be two competitions running concurrently: An individual tournament for the Professionals and a Team competition which will be of the lower of the professional’s and his amateur partner’s score at each hole.

Amateur men must have a recognised handicap of 18 or better that is verified by the player’s home club. Amateur ladies must have a handicap of 24 or better.

All entries will be subject to approval by the Championship Committee.

It’s the only tournament every year that gets played at the Old Course, and having Carnoustie and Kingsbarns along for the ride isn’t bad either.
Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and The Old Course
Quick notes on the three courses being used this week:
Carnoustie – One of nine courses still in the Open Championship rota, Carnoustie is considered by many to be the toughest championship course in the world. What makes it so tough? Brutal wind and undulating greens provide a serious challenge, even for the best players in the world. A brutal closing stretch from 15-18 awaits and surely those of you who have been watching golf for long enough remember the 1999 Open Championship. Paul Lawrie came away victorious when Jean van de Velde took his infamous barefoot romp inside the Barry Burn on the 18th, costing himself the win despite holding a three shot lead on the tee.
Kingsbarns – By far the newest course of the three, Kingsbarns has only been around since 2001, but it has quickly risen to the top of many “best courses” lists online. The North Sea is visible from every hole on the course, and it should be the easiest of the three in terms of scoring, thanks to wide fairways. However, the greens are tough and there are a ton of bunkers, so accuracy will still be needed. There are few courses that provide a better viewing experience than Kingsbarns, so get a glimpse of it this week during the coverage and you won’t be sorry.
The Old Course at St. Andrews – What can you say about the Old Course? The birthplace of golf is the most recognizable course in the game and will provide a stern challenge, even with the widest fairways that you’ll ever see on a course. The wind will always be a factor and the sheer size of the undulating greens, seven of which are double greens, will require quality shot making to avoid two and three putts. I love Augusta National and many of the courses in the United States, but there’s nothing like the Old Course.
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Martin Kaymer: Won the tournament back in 2010, and always seems to play well in the Scotland area. He hasn’t had the best year though, opting to play mostly on the PGA Tour with mixed results. Last played at the Deutsche Bank a few weeks ago where he finished tied for 47th, and only has three top-10 finishes since May.
  • Charl Schwartzel: Schwartzel is probably the most talented man in the field, but his track record here isn’t great, with one top-10 and five missed cuts in nine appearances. He had a good run in the FedEx Cup, making it to the Tour Championship with four solid weeks of quality play. Rounds of 79 and 77 on Friday and Saturday at East Lake killed him.
  • Ross Fisher: Fisher is listed here because he’s starting to round into form, with back-to-back top-5’s in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Finished as the runner-up here in 2008. His big problem? Too inconsistent from round to round. It’s tough to win when you go 68-77-66-75.
  • Paul Casey: Back when Casey was one of the best players in the world, he always loved coming to play St. Andrews, but he’s had a bit of a rough time over the past few years. He finally got back on track at the Irish Open at the end of June, and even though he’s only had one top-20 finish since, his play has been better than the result.
  • Simon Dyson: Three top-10’s in his last four appearances at this event, including a win back in 2009. Coming into the tournament in decent form as well, with only three rounds above 72 in his last 32 times on the course.

Suggested Plays
Charl Schwartzel (Best Odds 25-1 at SkyBet)
If you’re going to give me the best player in the field at this kind of price, I’m going to take it every time. Yeah, the track record here isn’t great, but I’m still going to lean on talent here, and like I said above, he’s been playing pretty well in North America.
Ernie Els (Best Odds 33-1 at Betfred)
Els usually plays well in both this event and at St. Andrews in general, so it seems like a decent spot to tip him considering that the field isn’t all that great this week. He’s had an extra week off as he didn’t make it to the Tour Championship and that never hurts either.
Stephen Gallacher (Best Odds 35-1 at Paddy Power)
Gallacher is a former winner of this event, coming away victorious back in 2004, and he’s been playing well in the last few weeks. Finished tied for 9th at the European Masters a few weeks ago in his last start, and was the runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood at the Johnnie Walker, losing in a playoff at the end of August. If he’s healthy, he’s been dealing with a bit of a back injury, he will be there at the end on Sunday.
Louis Oosthuizen (Best Odds 44-1 at BETDAQ)
Speaking of injuries, this is the first tournament back for Louis Oosthuizen since he missed the cut at the John Deere back in July. He’s been dealing with a litany of injuries to his elbow, back and just about everything else that you can name, so it is a bit of a risk to take him in this spot, but I can’t pass him up at this price. He’s going to be using this as his prep for the Presidents Cup in two weeks, so you know he’s motivated. Don’t forget that his runaway win at the 2010 Open was at St. Andrews.
Brooks Koepka (Best Odds 66-1 at Betfair)
Koepka took the Peter Uihlein approach to pro golf after his stint at Florida State, coming to Europe to start his career and it’s paid off for him. The three-time All-American has won four times on the European Challenge Tour, including three times this season, earning his European Tour card for 2014. Missed the cut last week in Italy, but I’m looking at his last pro win, the Scottish Hydro Challenge. He’s comfortable in the area and is loaded with talent, so 66-1 is a steal.
Alexander Noren (Best Odds 70-1 at Betfair)
Taking a look at another injury case, as Noren has struggled with a wrist problem in recent months, but he claims to be healthy at the moment, so I’ll take him at this price. Finished third here last year, and is a tremendous putter and scrambler.

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