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21st April 2024 9:22 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Warming up for The Open? Yes, it’s the Scottish Open

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

Quite why an American-Romanian family called Sarvardi thought that taking 300 acres off the Duke of Hamilton right next door to Muirfield and sticking another Golf Course on it was a good idea, bamboozled a lot of people at the beginning of this century. But former Texan aviation fuel wholesaler, Jerry Sarvardi and his brother Paul, obviously have a way of doing business that appeals to the Scottish mindset, because it has taken them from 2002 to 2009 to negotiate a 99-year lease with the Hamilton family trusts, get the planning permissions through, build the course and open the club to memberships and the result is The Renaissance Club. They landed the Scottish Open in their first decade of operations, but to be fair, the first four hostings – despite all the noise surrounding the club- were actually terribly dull, largely because the weather was flat calm on every occasion.

I’m not going to go mad…

…because this seems like a pretty strong field. Three previous winners are playing this week: AARON RAI (2020), MIN WOO LEE (2021), and XANDER SCHAUFFELE (2022). Nine of the top-11 in golf’s worldwide rankings are participating this week (with the exception of LIV Golf’s Cameron Smith, No. 7). Included in the field are world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, No. 3 Rory McIlroy, No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, No. 5 Viktor Hovland, and No. 6 Schauffele. This fifth running will see – or so we’re led to believe by The Met – the complete panoply of adverse Golfing conditions with Sunday due to be played in rain and winds of 20mph. In other words, proper links weather in preparation for The Open itself.

I expect the weather to be a major factor over the weekend, so I’m tending towards players with a lot of links experience who can keep picking away at the coalface, in fair and foul conditions.  Fleetwood has been in great form and has also been excellent at The Renaissance Club. The Englishman tied for fourth here last year and was the runner-up in 2020 when the weather went bad (like it’s expected to this week).

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: lost in a playoff here to AARON RAI in 2020 and finished T4 last year, gaining strokes in every major statistical category. His super run of form includes three top-5s in his last six tournaments, including a playoff loss at the RBC Canadian Open. He hasn’t won in the U.S. but this is home turf and don’t forget his T4 finish at last year’s Open Championship.

TYRRELL HATTON: has finished in the top 25 in all three appearances at The Renaissance Club and has three top-five finishes in his past six tournaments. OK, he missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open – but that’s the only time Hatton has not finished in the Top 40 since last autumn. He looks decent e/w value

PATRICK CANTLAY: He finished T4 last year off a strong approach game and in fine putting form. He’s only missed one cut this season (Waste Management Phoenix Open) and is coming off a strong T4 at The Travelers Championship in late June. It’s hard to say when Cantlay is going to have his breakthrough moment in 2023, but the metrics are trending in the right direction. He is third Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green in this field, first SG: Off-the-Tee and top 10 SG: Approach and SG: Putting. He’s certainly not the calibre of Scottie Scheffler, but then he is much better value.

I’m very tempted by VIKTOR HOVLAND, but I just think his numbers are wrong. Instead, my big outsider is RYAN FOX who has been a bit fits and starts, but to cut a long story short, the Kiwi has suffered a number of bereavements, some sloppy form and I think he essentially lost his way for a bit. He captured the Dunhill Links last October and is coming here in pretty decent shape. I can see Fox improving on what has been a pretty decent run of seven top-30s in nine PGA Tour starts since March,  Back on the Links course, with some duff weather and I think he’s worth backing in a number of markets. (Assume 8 places e/w winners market).

PATRICK CANTLAY 14/1 3½ pts e/w – TYRELL HATTON 18/1 2½ pts e/w – TOMMY FLEETWOOD 2 pts e/w 22/1 – RYAN FOX 1 pt 66/1 e/w

RYAN FOX Top 20 finish 11/4  6 pts Win –  Top 10 Finish 6/1 4 pts win

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