European Tour - Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open - 11-14 July
Castle Stuart Golf Links, Balnaglack Farmhouse, Inverness, Scotland
The Scottish Open has been the traditional precursor to The Open Championship since the European Tour's inception in 1972.
It switched venues from Loch Lomond to Castle Stuart Links from 2011, allegedly with the goal of giving players a decent links outing in advance of the big one and the winners here have been Jeev Milka Singh (2012) & Luke Donald (2011).
Castle Stuart is short at just 7050yds par 72 and, as its name implies, a links. It's located beside Moray Firth and in true links style, it's a shotmakers' course rewarding course management and excellence on and around the greens.
Driving length is far less important than tactical placement off the tee since, in true links fashion, Castle Stuart features wide fairways that afford multiple lines of play, large fescue greens and undulating fairway terrain.
The early favourite is, understandably, last start winner Ernie Els at 17.00 just ahead of an ever-improving Henrik Stenson at 19.00.
Phil Mickelson, trying to tune-up for the Open Championship next week, is next at 21.00.
Then come: resurgent Paul Casey at 23.00 and Matteo Manassero & Thomas Bjorn at 26.00
For this event I'm trying to zero in on sound links players who have a bit of recent form and who will not regard themselves as a chance of winning The Open Championship next week.
I'm looking for longer prices for each way betting value as no recent Scottish Open winners have been serious Open Championship contenders. Last year's winner Jeev Milka Singh was 100/1.
In the lead-in, I liked Scot, Marc Warren for this but his opening price, in the 40-45.00 range, was simply too short for my tastes for a guy with so few career victories. It'll therefore be longshots all the way for me here!
My top selection is Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin at 81.00. This is a tremendous price for a guy who had a playoff win in the Spanish Open in April and is who not at all out of his comfort zone on links layouts (eg 5th in the Alfred Dunhill Links last year; 8th in The Open Championship 2011).
I don't so much expect a second win in 2013 by infrequent winner Raphael, but at this price he's simply too compelling to pass by in an each way value context of 21.00 the place. For non-believers, his Top10 price is a still-juicy 9.00-10.00 with most bookies.
My 2nd pick is erratic but talented Italian Lorenzo Gagli at 151.00 who was 3rd here in 2011 and who is overdue to string four decent round together. He'll simply blitz a tournament one of these days; I hope it's this week!
My third selection is Chile's Mark Tullo at 200.00 who was also 3rd here in the shortened 54-hole 2011 tournament and who has posted some good performances this season, including a 2nd in Madeira. His price here looks ridiculously long to me!
Cheers and good luck with your punting!
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