With only very light winds forecast for this week's Dunhill Links Championship, an event that could potentially have separated the best from the rest looks wide-open, as illustrated by the fact the favourite is trading at 25.024/1. That, in theory, should be good news for the purposes of this column.
Although it would be hard to whittle this field down to fewer than 50 potential winners, there are plenty of clues. For starters, you won't get very far this week without a hot putter and I expect both putting and birdie average will be key stats. Moreover, such a birdie-fest may not be links golf at it's toughest, but this form of golf remains a refined art that plenty of good players never master. Equally, there are always a plethora of British and Irish players who love it.
A further potential angle is the similarity between this week's test and the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. Just like this trio of links courses, all of which are set up at their least penal so as not to embarrass the amateurs, Castle Stuart is a relatively easy links course that always produces a birdie-fest. All three selections have some form there.
First, John Parry makes the trading plan for the third time in recent weeks. He yielded a profit for us at the Wales Open, then struggled in the KLM Open. This event was arguably his finest hour, when finishing third to a peak-form Martin Kaymer in 2010. Parry was fifth at Castle Stuart in June and remains in sound form on the greens. Over the last three months, he ranks 17th for putting and seventh for birdie average.
Matthew Baldwin honed his skills on the classic Lancashire links layouts and has the tools to thrive here. He was fifth at Castle Stuart in 2012 and followed up with a top-25 at the Open. He's been hanging around just outside the contention zone all summer, registering good long and short game stats, so it could be worth taking a chance at 240.0239/1 that this could be the week he gets some reward.
This event has often proved a good stage for British golf's best long-term prospects to strut their stuff at a very young age. Rory McIlroy finished third on only his second professional start. Tommy Fleetwood finished fifth two years ago on his third European Tour outing as a pro. One youngster who really caught the eye earlier this summer was 22 year-old Eddie Pepperell. Already carrying a formidable amateur reputation, Eddie has made an instant impact in his rookie season on the main tour, finishing sixth in the prestigious BMW Championship and then qualifying for the US Open. Notably, he was 12th behind Mickelson, Stenson et al at Castle Stuart.
The trading advice is to stake five units in total on the trio, then place orders to lay each at 16.015/1 and 3.02/1. Should any of them hit the first target, we'll be guaranteed to at least triple our initial outlay.
Back John Parry 2.5u @ 140.0139/1
Back Matthew Baldwin 1.5u @ 240.0239/1
Back Eddie Pepperell 1u @ 360.0359/1
Place order to lay each player 15u @ 16.015/1
Place order to lay each player 20u @ 3.02/1
Updated 2013 Stats: +13.5 units