Scottish Open Each-Way Tips: Herbert set for Renaissance era

Lucas Herbert
Lucas Herbert can thrive on the links at The Renaissance Club.

It's the Scottish Open this week and Matt Cooper has three each-way selections for the action from the Renaissance Club with the Betfair Sportsbook paying eight places...

"He was tied seventh at the chilly 2018 Dunhill Links, tied third a week later at a mucky Walton Heath and then T14th at the freezing Open de France last October."

Back Lucas Herbert each-way @ 35/1

Main Bet: Lucas Herbert each-way @ 35/1

The first thought this week was that I wanted north Europeans on-side because the delayed Scottish Open is being played in what would, under normal circumstances, be the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship week and 17 of 19 winners of that event have been from Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia or Germany.

One of the exceptions was last year's winner, Frenchman Victor Perez, who, by virtue of living in Dundee with his girlfriend, and practicing in Fife, had become a local of sorts.

The same slot in the calendar is not all that the two tournaments have in common because The Renaissance Club, located between Gullane and North Berwick, is just over the water from Fife so we can expect similar requirements from those who contend: ability to play links golf, but also the capacity to excel when the conditions are blustery, cold and even, if the weather forecast is accurate, wet.

Which rather begs the question: why select the Aussie Lucas Herbert?

The answer lies in a selection of recent results which might provide pointers for this week - that is, links or links-like played in the cold and/or the rain.

I'd suggest the last few Dunhill Links fit the bill, plus the 2018 British Masters at Walton Heath, the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush and last autumn's Open de France at Le Golf National - and Herbert's name featured quite prominently in those.

He was tied seventh at the chilly 2018 Dunhill Links, tied third a week later at a mucky Walton Heath and then T14th at the freezing Open de France last October.

Earlier this season we saw exactly what the 24-year-old from Victoria is capable of when he claimed a superb victory in the Dubai Desert Classic, negotiating a nasty final day wind to set a target only Christiaan Bezuidenhout could match and then showing supreme bottle to recover from a poor shot on the first extra hole before completing victory on the second.

Two weeks ago he played some fine golf to land T32nd in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot and backed it up with tied seventh last week at Galgorm Castle.

One clumsy shot selection early in his final round cost him a genuine tilt at the title, but it might do just the trick in putting the bit between his teeth for this week.

He opened with rounds of 67-66 to sit fairly pretty at halfway in this tournament last year, but drifted backwards at the weekend to T62nd.

He'd arrived with little or no form to speak of on that occasion and the situation is different this time around; a good run is well within his grasp.

Next Best: Andy Sullivan each-way @ 35/1

There are many very fine links performers among the young (and young-ish) Englishmen currently plying their trade on the European Tour.

Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick - at 10/1 and 12/1 respectively - have great claims this week, but are both a little short for consideration in this column which looks for each-way value.

Danny Willett, Eddie Pepperell and Matthew Southgate have reaped fine rewards by the seaside, but the first two have struggled post-lockdown and the latter's difficulty with finding the top 20 looks linked to a drop in his greens in regulation numbers.

Midlander Andy Sullivan is another who fits the bill and I'm willing to overlook missed cuts at Valderrama and Winged Foot because before that was in fine fettle.

He opened the post-lockdown period with a fast-finishing tied fourth in the British Masters, followed it with a dominant seven-shot win in the English Championship and was then tied ninth in the UK Championship.

ANDY SULLIVAN June 2018.jpg

Last year he was T28th on this course having opened with a fine 64 and, whichever view you take of the Tom Doak design at The Renaissance, it was no surprise Sullivan went low there.

In theory, the course is links and Sullivan likes such a challenge, as evidenced by three top six finishes on the classic Irish links tests of Royal County Down, Ballyliffin and Lahinch, plus T12th at Royal Troon in the 2016 Open and tied tenth at the 2018 Dunhill Links.

He's also proved himself on modern links designs, which are maybe more akin to this week's examination, when finishing top ten in this tournament at Castle Stuart and Dundonald Links.

And if you take the view that the track is merely link-like then his form at le Golf National is handy - never outside the top 26 in his last six visits.

The last of those was last October and he was also tied ninth at Walton Heath two years ago - so he's got the form in the cold and the wind ticked as well.

Final Bet: Lucas Bjerregaard each-way @ 100/1

The Dane's 2019 season was a strange one, which is a polite way of saying that it was mostly terrible and it also leaked into 2020, but there were two trends within that horror 18 month period which were notable.

The first was that he played the big events rather well, landing a semi-final appearance in the World Golf Championship Match Play and three top 25 finishes in the major championships.

The other was that, even when struggling everywhere else, the linksland continued to work its magic on him and draw his best golf.

At this tournament, for example, he carded an opening 66 to lie three shots off the lead before a 72 on Friday saw him miss the cut by one.

A week later he landed T16th in the Open at Royal Portrush and while he would then descend into a truly shocking run of form - not one top 40 in 16 starts - the only time in that period he would find himself in a top ten at the end of a round was at the Dunhill Links.

A year prior to that, when everything was going swimmingly, he had won the multi-course shindig at St Andrews and a week later was tied ninth in the British Masters at Walton Heath.

The good news is that in the last fortnight there have been signs that the Dane is finally rediscovering his mojo.

He drifted in and out of the top ten through the first 60 holes of the Portugal Masters, then last week opened with a 68 to again find himself in the top ten and although he went backwards thereafter it will have added to his confidence ahead of another seaside test.

Staked: 42pts
Returned: 36pts
P/L: -6pts

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