Scottish Open Fixed Odds Betting: Fichardt a monster price with emphasis on putting

A good week is in prospect for 'top putter' Darren Fichardt

With hot temperatures and low winds forecast for this week's Scottish Open, Mike Norman is expecting another birdie blast from those who will contend at Castle Stuart, and our man is quite sweet on a huge price outsider...

"And what’s encouraging about those two performances is that he recorded scores of -16 and -19, proving that when low scores are possible and putting becomes essential, then Darren Fichardt is your man."

Our slightly different approach last week resulted in a healthy profit thanks to Graeme Storm's terrific third-place finish at the Open de France.

Le Golf National - home of the aforementioned tournament - is definitely a venue where previous course form counts for so much, and Storm was the one player in the field who I said that, other than Martin Kaymer, brought the best course form to the table.

You only need one 126.0125/1 shot to place every now and then to keep your betting head well above water, but that's enough about my success as it pales into insignificance compared to Paul Krishnamurty's brilliant 130.0129/1 selection of Jonas Blixt ahead of the Greenbrier Classic. A massive well done Paul.

My approach ahead of this week's Scottish Open couldn't be more different to last week as previous course form means very little if I'm being honest.

Castle Stuart Golf Links has been open for business for just four years, and it has been home of the Scottish Open for just two previous renewals - and one of those was basically a complete wash-out, with what felt like players being able to lift, clean and place their ball to anywhere they liked.

I'm not even going to put much emphasis on 'Links' form either this week. Castle Stuart is a relatively short course (though some holes have been lengthened) with wide fairways, and with the weather set fair for the remainder of the week, then I'm expecting this year's renewal to boil down to basically what the previous two renewals have ended up being - a putting contest.

So with all this in mind, here's my five selections to consider;

Darren Fichardt - 201.0200/1

I'm leading with my biggest-price selection simply because I think Fichardt is easily the most over-priced player I've witnessed for a long time. He may well go on to miss the cut by 10 shots, that's just the chance you take, but why he is priced at 201.0200/1 Fixed Odds, and at 280.0279/1 on the Exchange, is a mystery to me.

Anyone who wins a European Tour event - as Fichardt did less than five months ago when landing the Africa Open - has to be respected in the months that follow, and anyone who wins and then backs it up with a second-place finish deserves even closer inspection.

Fichardt did exactly that - he followed up his Africa Open victory with a runner-up finish at the Tshwane Open a month later. And what's encouraging about those two performances is that he recorded scores of -16 and -19, proving that when low scores are possible and putting becomes essential, then this talented South African is your man.

True, Fichardt has had some missed cuts recently, but as soon as he was back at an 'easy' venue where low scores were possible, he shot -14 to finish in a tie for seventh just a few weeks ago at a high class BMW International Open.

All this alone makes the South African's price too big, but consider also that many good judges believe that putting will be crucial this week, then the fact that Fichardt currently ranks 1st for Putts per Round on the Tour, 1st for Putts per GIR, and 15th for One Putts, then I remain staggered that this man is considered a rank outsider to win this week.

In 2011, seven of the first nine home here ranked in the top 15 for the week in Putts per GIR, and last year, three of the first four ranked in the top six for the same stat. In summary, if you find the greens at Castle Stuart, then putting becomes essential.

Sound like a 200/1 shot to you? No, me neither.

Garth Mulroy - 126.0125/1

I can add further strength to my Fichardt argument by saying that I'm more than happy to back Mulroy this week at 126.0125/1 and yet he's shown very little form in recent months. In fact Mulroy finished behind my main selection at both the Africa Open and Tshwane Open and has shown no form whatsoever since.

But Mulroy does rank very high - albeit behind Fichardt - in the putting stats and I'm finding it hard to ignore him from an each-way perspective at decent odds.

Alex Noren - 36.035/1

I'd rate Noren my main fancy amongst the 'shorter' price selections simply because I rate the Swede as a player who knows how to go low when scoring is at its easiest - his performances at the Nordea Masters, a course that plays very easy in benign conditions, is testament to this belief.

Noren recorded back to back top-four finishes - encouragingly, on courses that provided plenty of birdies - prior to missing the cut at the ultra-tough Open de France last week. It's easy to forgive him last week's relatively poor showing given that the course difficulty might not have suited, and I'd expect a much bolder showing now that he's back on a 'birdie buffet' course.

Noren can be a great ball striker when on song, and the fact that he ranks 9th for Putts per GIR and 10th for Putts per Round has to be a plus. If you do believe course form is relevant, then you'll be encouraged that Noren finished third here last year.

Francesco Molinari - 36.035/1

One place ahead of Noren 12 months ago was Molinari who lost out in a play-off to Jeev Milkha Singh, and he has the short game to contend again this week.

True, if putting is to win the day at Castle Stuart then Molinari probably won't be up there, but this popular Italian can be a genius with his short irons so the hope is that he'll be playing a lot of his approach shots from short distance, short enough to be able to knock it so close that his putting doesn't become an issue.

I'm not saying Molinari is a bad putter, far from it, but he does miss a few short ones from time-to-time and that could be the difference between winning and losing this week. He's in decent form however, and I think he'll be up there come Sunday afternoon.

Ross Fisher - 51.050/1

I sense Fisher is extremely close to winning again. Right now there's always one round - in Europe at least - that stops him from having a very good week; a final round 74 sent him down the field last week, an opening 73 was his worst round at the Irish Open, and he failed to break par in at least one round in the three tournaments that immediately preceded the BMW International Open.

But his game generally looks in good order, he's making cuts with regularity on the European Tour, and although he isn't performing as well on the PGA Tour, he did record a top-10 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship not long ago.

Fisher definitely knows how to go low when he's on song, and if he stays in Europe once the Majors are out of the way I fancy he'll be appearing a lot on leaderboards. Fingers crossed he'll be appearing very high on the Scottish Open one this week.

Recommended Bets

Back Darren Fichardt each-way @ 201.0200/1
Back Garth Mulroy each-way @ 126.0125/1
Back Alex Noren @ 36.035/1
Back Francesco Molinari @ 36.035/1
Back Ross Fisher @ 51.050/1

*Fixed Odds prices are based on our Sportsbook product, so any winnings are exempt from commission

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