With the Open Championship looming next week at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England, the majority of the world’s best golfers are headed to Scotland for the Scottish Open to get acclimated to links golf.
Six of the top 11 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings are in the field this week, making this the most loaded field on the European Tour circuit, as it typically is. The Renaissance Club plays host to the tournament for the third straight year.
The 2020 Scottish Open saw Aaron Rai outlast Tommy Fleetwood in a playoff to secure his second Euro Tour title. Despite many PGA Tour regulars usually in the field, the winner tends to be a golfer who has experience on the Euro Tour.
Course Breakdown and Weather
The Renaissance Club measures out as roughly a 7,300-yard par-71. The weather is what determines the difficulty of this track, as it varied greatly between the first and second year of this event. In 2019, Bernd Wiesberger won at 22-under, but last year Aaron Rai won at 11-under due to the increased adverse weather conditions.
The tournament will be affected greatly by weather this week, with scattered rainstorms expected on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Wind is going to be ramped up on Thursday, but should remain around 5-10 miles per hour most of the tournament with the exception of occasional gusts.
The favorite this week is Jon Rahm (+750), who is making his first start since winning the U.S. Open. It is his first European Tour event since winning the Open de Espana back in October 2019. Rahm is more than capable of winning this event, but with it being his first event since winning his first major and next week being another major, it is hard to believe his focus will be 100 percent on this tournament at hand.
Xander Schauffele (+1200) and Collin Morikawa (+1400) are next in line on the odds board, but neither has previous experience playing this course. The layout and conditions appear to play more to Morikawa’s golf game, but neither are worth a bet at under 15-1. Justin Thomas (+1400) finished ninth here two years ago, but with the struggles he has had with his short game, he is not worth a bet, either.
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That leaves Rory McIlroy (+1600) as the best bet among the favorites to take the victory. He struggled at the Irish Open last week, but that is not worth putting too much stock into considering the struggles he usually has there with the considerable off-course obligations he has to attend to. He has been in Europe longer than most of the PGA Tour regulars, which could play to his advantage and make him worth a bet at 16-1 this week.
Tyrell Hatton (+2000) is next up on the odds board and has the most Euro Tour success of the favorites this week, with six wins since 2016. He finished 14th here two years ago and with his iron play this course makes him worth a bet. The only other golfer under 25-1 is Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500), who also owns six career European Tour victories. He would be worth a play this week if he had inspired any hope over the last two months, but since he has not, stick to Mcllroy and Hatton as the two favorites to back this week.
Best Value Plays
The best bet for the middle tier is on South African Branden Grace (+4000) to win this week. Grace finished fourth at the Memorial and seventh at the U.S. Open over the last month.
Grace owns a win at Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland and has registered a 62 at The Open, so he is more than comfortable at this type of course. He also owns a playoff loss to Phil Mickelson on a different course in Scotland, so he should be more than happy to return to Scotland this week.
He owns two wins on the European Tour and with his iron play he is capable of winning any event on the other side of the pond.
It is worth adding at least one European Tour veteran to your card this week as a longshot because so many of the better players in the field will have one eye ahead on The Open Championship next week. The best longshot worth a play this week at the Scottish Open is Jason Scrivener (+10000).
With three top-10 finishes in his last four starts, his recent form is as good as many other golfers in the field. He has missed the cut both times this event was held here, but at 100-1 it is worth taking a chance on him based on his current form.
Top-10 Play of the Week
The best top-10 play of the week is on Thomas Pieters (+475) to be right there on Sunday afternoon. Pieters led the field at the Irish Open last week in strokes gained off the tee, which makes him worth a play at 66-1.
But he looked healthy and confident enough last week to compete this week. He finished 20th here two years ago, where he opened with a 64 before fading a bit with three consecutive rounds of 68.
Matchup Play of the Week
The best matchup play of the week is Garrick Higgo (+105) to finish ahead of Sam Burns. Higgo has finished inside the top 10 in each of his last three European Tour starts, including two wins.
Burns finished 13th at the Travelers Championship in his last start, but missed two of the three previous cuts. He has his greatest success at golf courses that have easy conditions and become birdie fests. This tournament will have more difficult conditions than he is used to and with plus-money on the experienced Higgo, he is the matchup play of the week.