The Scottish Open is often referred to as the warm up event for The Open which takes place next week, but it is a quality tournament in its own right and the first round of this year’s renewal provides the golfing backdrop on Thursday.
A decent field will take to the Renaissance Club for the first time in competitive action on Thursday looking to get themselves into a good early position to launch a title charge over the weekend in what is a lucrative tournament.
First Round Leader
Once again we’ll have a look at the first round leader market this week. Unlike last week we are back to the two waves of start times in North Berwick here which can make betting a little easier if there is to be a change in the weather at any point. We can’t say the weather gets much worse in the afternoon but the course could be soft in the morning and conditions much calmer. I’ll let the early starters go in case the rain lingers and go with three later morning starters.
We have had two links tournaments this season – the British Masters and the Irish Open and Lee Westwood has been in the top 10 after the first round of both. He carded a 66 at Hillside and the same score again last week. Going low in all four rounds looks to be an issue at the minute but he has shown he can ping the lids and looks to have an ideal tee time at 08.40.
Gavin Green has been in excellent form recently and if the course is soft in the morning his bit hitting could eat it right up. His finishing positions in the last four outings have been 5, T37, T8 and T9 and his first round scores have been 69, 69, 66 and 66 so he is hitting the ground running. As well as starting with a 66 he shot 65 and 66 over the weekend in Ireland so he’s in good enough nick and needs to be backed. I’ll also cover Robert Rock as well. He has opened up with three under rounds in the two links course events so far this year and banged in that 60 in the third round last week. He’s out at 09.10 so he’s worth covering too.
Thursday 3 Balls
With this being a Rolex Series event and a pretty big tournament in its own right most of the groups out onto the golf course for the first round have been priced up. The field go out in threes on Thursday with tee times off the first and the tenth tee with a split in the middle of the two waves so the TV coverage will get a good chunk of both sets of marquee draws. In the afternoon that is Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Robert MacIntyre who set off on their journey at 13.40 BST. It is the Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Kevin Kisner set that will be the centre of the attention in the morning. They go off at 08.40. I like bets in two other groups though.
Brandon Stone/Tyrrell Hatton/Justin Thomas
Match tees off at 08.30 BST
One of the morning groups onto the golf course that should get a good chunk of the coverage when the TV cameras start rolling is the one featuring the defending champion Brandon Stone, twice Dunhill Links winner Tyrrell Hatton and the former USPGA champion Justin Thomas.
Given that Thomas’ record on the links is little short of poor and the fact that he has holed little since coming back from injury he is pretty easy to pass over which leaves this as a match between the other two. I like Brandon Stone but last week was only the third time all season that he has broken 70 in the opening round of a tournament which doesn’t inspire me. I was close to backing Hatton this week but didn’t quite pull the trigger but he’s a wonderful links player and should have the beating of his playing partners here.
Martin Kaymer/Bernd Wiesberger/Paul Lawrie
Match tees off at 13.00 BST
The first tee in the afternoon wave of performers will see the former Open champion looking to win his national Open when Paul Lawrie tees it up alongside the twice major winner Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger, who was the successor in Denmark earlier in the campaign.
Lawrie hasn’t been a force at this level for a while now and although he has been active in the seniors sphere this should be a different kettle of fish alongside two of the best Europe have to offer. There is a lot of pressure on Kaymer this week. As it stands he goes to Portrush as the third alternative next week but a big week here and he could yet qualify by right. Unfortunately for the German we’ve seen recently that he doesn’t do pressure too well these days. That leaves Wiesberger who had a lovely tune up in Ireland last week where he shot four rounds in the 60s. He opened with a 69 at Hillside earlier in the year and went one better on his way to winning in Denmark. Wiesberger has stacks of links form in the books and should be favourite for this group in my eyes.
Back L.Westwood First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 61.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)
Back R.Rock First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 91.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)
Back G.Green First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
Back T.Hatton to beat J.Thomas & B.Stone for a 3/10 stake at 2.80 with Betfair
WON – Back B.Wiesberger to beat M.Kaymer & P.Lawrie for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with Betfair
Back them here: