Golf,

Making a Wies move

Scottish Open


Best bets (7 places, 1/5 odds)
2pts each-way Bernd Wiesberger @ 20/1
1pt each-way Romain Langasque @ 40/1
1pt each-way Thomas Pieters @ 20/1
1pt each-way Robert MacIntyre @ 40/1
1pt each-way Tommy Fleetwood @ 10/1

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The Scottish Open returns this week to the opulent Renaissance Club midway between Muirfield and North Berwick and is the first of two bumper $7m paydays – the PGA Championship at Wentworth follows immediately – worth plenty of Ryder Cup points.

Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick head the betting but don’t win as often as they should and at double the odds last year’s champion Bernd Wiesberger makes more appeal.

The big Austrian knows how to win – he did so three times last year, in Scotland, Denmark and Italy – and his 61 in round two demonstrated how many birdie chances there are at Renaissance.

Laid out by American architect Tom Doak in 2008 with generous fairways but punitive rough, Wiesberger’s 22-under score was matched by Benjamin Hébert who lost in extra-time.

Another Frenchman, Romain Langasque, finished two back in third but could be a bigger threat to Wiesberger after chalking up an overdue breakthrough victory at the Wales Open last month.

Quiet American John Catlin, winner twice in a month in Europe on tough courses, doesn’t look like much, doesn’t hit it far, but seems unflappable and is one to have on your side. He will win again.

Less reliable but more talented is Belgian bomber Thomas Pieters who could make mincemeat of this 7343-yard par 71. Only 20th last year, he has returned to the fray after the birth of his first child and seems in a happier place now.

Third in the Celtic Classic was followed by a solid 15th on the same course the following week and there was much to like about his 23rd in the US Open last time out.

Playing in his homeland this week, even without crowd support, should see Robert MacIntyre improve on an underwhelming 2020 to date and remind us more of the three runner-up finishes and Open debut sixth that made him Rookie of the Year In 2019.

Of the players at the front of the market, Open champion Shane Lowry, Fleetwood and Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood looks the pick.

The first of Tommy’s five victories came in Scotland, at Gleneagles seven years ago,    and his current game looked sharp earlier in the month with a closing 64 for third spot in the Portugal Masters.

 

Sanderson Farms Championship


Best bets (6 places, 1/5 odds)

2pts each-way Sungjae Im @ 14/1
1pt each-way Luke List @ 40/1
1pt each-way Scottie Scheffler @ 9/1
0.5pt each-way Henrik Stenson @ 50/1
0.5pt each-way Davis Riley @ 150/1

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Expect the unexpected when the PGA Tour for the seventh time visits the Jackson Country Club course in Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship.

The six editions since the tournament moved to Jackson were all won by first-timers, some of whom aren’t even household names in their own household. Cody Gribble and Peter Malnati, where are you now?

It took 41-year-old Ryan Armour 105 starts until he pulled a rabbit out of the hat by winning the 2017 edition while last year Sebastián Muñoz put himself on the bookmakers’ Christmas card list by defeating the more fancied Sungjae Im in a play-off.

My money’s on the consistent South Korean to turn the tables and add to his March victory at the Honda in Florida. Sungjae has been hovering on leaderboards for so long it’s hard to believe he’s only 22 with the best still come.

It was a shame Scottie Scheffler was ruled out of the US Open after failing a COVID-19 test because he is in the form of his life and might well have made his presence felt at Winged Foot.

His last six starts feature third place at the PGA Championship, fifth at East Lake and a round of 59 at the Northern Trust. The only problem is the price which is skinny for a guy who has yet to win at main-tour level.

It is sad to see fading Major winners like Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson at big odds for an ordinary contest such as this but the Swede showed enough last week when 21st to 200-1 winner Hudson Swafford (80-1 for a quick follow-up) to rate a small interest.

Big-hitting Luke List, runner-up at Jackson in 2016 and a top-ten finisher in the Dominican Republic at the weekend, fits the profile of a Sanderson first-time winner as do Korn Ferry stars Will Zaratoris, sixth in the US Open, and Mississippi native Davis Riley, twice a winner this year on the satellite circuit.

Byeong Hun An, third last year but never a winner on US soil, and the brilliant but inconsistent Si Woo Kim, third at the Wyndham, are not as reliable as Im but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for the Koreans to have a 1-2-3.

 

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