The European Tour's Hero Open heads to the home of golf this week and Matt Cooper has three each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...
"Fast-running golf is undoubtedly Caldwell’s favourite form of the game."
Main Bet: Jonathan Caldwell 1pt each-way @ 90/1
Common wisdom insists that a long-awaited breakthrough victory should herald a relaxed approach and a free ride towards results that more accurately reflect the golfer's ability.
The reality is far more complicated and plenty of golfers have found the immediate aftermath of a win an unexpectedly tricky period.
So it's proved for Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell who first started to suggest he could transfer amateur promise into European Tour consistency last season before winning the Scandinavian Mixed in June - whereupon he has missed four straight cuts.
Last week's hurt the most because he was desperate to play the weekend in front of family and friends at Galgorm Castle.
Perhaps, however, the letdown will also be a release of pressure - and where better for that to happen than Scotland, where he's played some of his best golf?
He landed three top four finishes in the home of golf on the third tier Europro Tour, then added tied seventh when this week's host, the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews, held the last year's Scottish Championship.
It's also true that if you dig a little deeper, fast running golf is undoubtedly Caldwell's favourite form of the game.
His second win on the Europro Tour was at the modern links design of Machnys Peninsula in South Wales, he's played well on heathland at third tier level, made the top five at the seaside Golf Pleneuf Val Andre on the Challenge Tour, and his win a few weeks ago came at the heathland/moorland-like Vallda.
He insisted ahead of last week that he hasn't sat back on his laurels after the win.
"The big target is securing a spot at the DP World Tour Championship at the end of the season," he said. "Other small goals are to compete for tournaments again over the weekend, give myself chances on back nines on Sundays, things like that. If I can kind of take care of those small things, I think that top-60 is very realistic."
"I had some decent results last year, a few good top-10s, top-fives. I knew that if I gave myself chances on the back nine on Sundays I could get over the line."
He's proved that once and, back on a test that he already know suits him, he can thrive again.
Next Best: Callum Shinkwin 1pt each-way @ 70/1
There will be an element of telling himself a story that hides a bad taste, but Callum Shinkwin insisted after his first European Tour win late last year that the slump which followed his play-off defeat in the 2017 Scottish Open was, "maybe just the kick up the backside I needed."
He hinted that his life was less than straightforward four years ago and perhaps it was that rather than anything on-the-course which needed changing.
Whatever, with his win in Cyprus he was able to rid himself of the worst memories of that near-miss.
He's played plenty of golf since the breakthrough and yet it was only when we were on him two weeks ago at Celtic Manor that he rediscovered the top five.
In fact, it's been a bit of a near-miss for the column because 125/1 pick Alejandro Canizares played brilliantly from the wrong end of the draw for a share of third last week.
But back to Shinkwin, he opened with a bright 67 in Ireland last week before a second round 74 saw him miss the cut.
I think there's a good chance he's been a little overlooked because of that lost weekend because for the previous five rounds he was always in the top 20.
That alone wouldn't make him a pick, but adding it to his form on modern linksland in Scotland does.
He finished tied eighth at Castle Stuart in the 2016 Scottish Open and his play-off defeat a year later was at Dundonald Links.
He's also been T10th in the Dunhill Links and has top 10s at the modern links-like International in the Netherlands, Le Golf National in France, and Al Mouj in Oman.
Final bet: Matthew Southgate 1pt each-way @ 35/1
At first I took a look at Englishman Matthew Southgate's price this week and was disappointed.
Then I noticed the names shorter than him and I was resolved that I could accept it.
Yes, it's a short price for a man yet to win at this, or indeed second tier, level.
But the flipside is that he's put together performances on linksland that might have lacked the crossing-the-finish-line-first element, but they were better than many wins in terms of quality.
He was tied second with Richie Ramsay behind only Jon Rahm at Portstewart in the 2017 Irish Open.
In England he's been tied sixth at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 Open, with only Haotong Li in this week's field ahead of him.
In Scotland he was solo second behind Victor Perez in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - a really decent effort in which he spent most of the final round looking right at home.
He's also finished second in Scotland at Spey Valley (fast running in-land), was second at halfway in the 2013 Scottish Open as modern links Castle Stuart, has been T12th in the Open at Royal Troon (only Soren Kjeldsen in this week's field ahead of him), tied ninth and T26th at The Renaissance Club, and he was T16th here at Fairmont St Andrews last October.
Southgate was also a winner on the Old Course in the St Andrews Links Trophy, is a member at Carnoustie, and has won on the minor tours at Royal St George's and on Surrey heathland, also at Royal Cinque Ports and Sunningdale in Open Qualifying.
Fast-running golf is his thing and he's not without form. It's only a few starts ago that he threatened to win the European Open at Green Eagle and the most recent of his top 30s at The Renaissance was two starts ago.
Southgate on normal turf would not be worth a go at this price, but on fast-running linksland or even modern linksland I'm happy to have him on-side.
MATT'S 2021 P/L
2020 P/L: -32pts
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