Get our golf experts' best bets for the Scottish Open and the John Deere Classic as the players warm up for next week's Open Championship...
""Given that six of the last ten Open winners have warmed up for the tournament in this event, anyone who plays well here will shorten up dramatically for next week's major..."
The European Tour heads to North Berwick for the Scottish Open and Steve 'The Punter' Rawlings has the lowdown ahead of Thursday's start.
Steve says: "Given that six of the last ten Open winners have warmed up for the tournament in this event, anyone who plays well here will shorten up dramatically for next week's major so if you fancy someone at Royal St George's who's playing here this week, make sure you're keeping an eye on how they're doing because their price will collapse if they perform well.
"This is a ridiculously competitive event and I'm happy to take it easy before the off so my only pre-event picks so far are Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger.
"Hatton will have been disappointed to have missed the cut in the US Open last time out but he finished second at the Palmetto Championship in his penultimate start and he's a terrific links exponent.
"He won back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links Championships in 2016 and 2017 and he finished 14th here two years ago after a slow start.
"The 2019 winner, Wiesberger, is often a bigger price than he should be and that appears to be the case here.
"In addition to the very obvious course form, the Austrian has also finished runner-up in a couple of Irish Opens at links tracks and following his recent title defence in Denmark, which was his eighth victory on the European Tour, and his fifth-place finish in Germany last time out, I thought 48.047/1 was too big."
Steve's bets: Back Tyrrell Hatton @ 23.022/1 Bernd Wiesberger @ 48.047/1
Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at The Renaissance Club on Thursday...
Dave says: "Andy Sullivan was fourth after 18 holes in Ireland last week and we only have to go back to December to find his latest first-round lead. That came at the Golf in Dubai Championship where he fired a blistering 61.
"This is an event he's always enjoyed. Sullivan was 16th on debut in 2012, posted back-to-back top 10s in 2016 and 2017 while in the two editions at The Renaissance Club he's added 28th and 26th.
"As for quick starts, he was third after day one in 2016 and, at this week's course, openers of 64 and 67 have put him fifth and 12th respectively.
"There's lots to like about Sullivan's first-round chances and I'll take him at 66/1 to go low from his 07:40 tee-time."
Dave's bet: Back Andy Sullivan E/W @ 67.066/1
Matt Cooper has three each-way selections for the Scottish Open with the Betfair Sportsbook paying eight places.
Matt says: "A Carnoustie member with family links to the Lothian coast, Matt Southgate was a winner of the St Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur, was second at halfway in this event at Castle Stuart in 2013, T12th at Royal Troon in the 2016 Open, tied second at Portstewart in the 2017 Irish Open, tied sixth two weeks later in the Open at Royal Birkdale, second at the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links and tied ninth here at The Renaissance Club last October.
"He also has a fine record in Open Qualifying at Royal Cinque Ports (a near neighbour of next week's Open host) and carded a 65 to win a minor tour event at Royal St George's in 2014. In other words, he's very well-suited for this week's test and he's also got plenty of reasons and motivation to perform well enough to grab a late ticket to Sandwich (there are three spot up for grabs).
"He's got a top 10 on the course, two top 10s against the world's elite (when faced with this sort of test), and he's grabbed a ticket to the Open via qualifying before so understands what lies ahead."
Matt's bet: Matthew Southgate 0.5pt each-way @ 201.0200/1
For this week's bid to find a winner at long odds, Steve's concentrating on the Scottish Open where he fancies a pair of Englishman to go well around the Renaissance Course.
Steve says: "Westwood was one of my two ante-post picks for next week's Open Championship when I looked at the tournament just before Christmas and it's quite odd to see him available at bigger odds to win this event given he's already shown a liking for the venue.
"In 15 attempts, Westwood has never bettered his debut fourth in 1996 in this event but he's most certainly one to look out for in the first round leader market.
"Here are his form figures after round one for his last ten Scottish Open appearances - 5-23-1-7-112-1-68-2-93-1.
"He's yet to back up a first round lead the following year, so that's a very slight concern, but with five top-five finishes in his last ten appearances, he's well worth a flutter at 75.074/1 on the exchange and each-way at 56.055/1 with the Sportsbook."
The PGA Tour moves from Michigan to Illinois as it takes in its traditional pre-Open Championship stop-off at Deere Run so read Steve's comprehensive John Deere Classic preview ahead of Thursday's start...
Steve says: "Although his course form isn't the strongest, I was more than happy to chance Troy Merritt at 60.059/1, which is the same price I backed him at last week after round one in the Rocker Mortgage Classic.
"He was eventually beaten at the fifth extra hole in Detroit, having been matched at odds-on in-running, and he's been in great form for a while now. That was his fourth top-eight finish in eight starts and two of those high finishes came in the two events that correlate the best with this one. He was eighth at the Valspar Championship and seventh in the Charles Schwab Challenge.
He's ranked inside the top-10 for Putting Average in four of his last eight events and he ranked first for Strokes Gained Putting at The Memorial Tournament last month and second last week. I thought 60.059/1 was more than fair..."
Steve's bet: Back Troy Merritt @ 60.059/1
For the third year in a row Scotland's national open takes place at The Renaissance Club on the East Lothian coast and Andy Swales has the course info and form stats...
Andy says: "There are also a handful of highly-ranked Brits such as world No 11 Rory McIlroy, who will be joined on the tee by Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood.
"With the exception of Thomas, most of the top-ranked players have enjoyed a sprinkling of T10s over the past few months, although the world No 3 did finish tied-9th on his only previous trip to The Renaissance Course two years ago.
"Of this elite group of golfers arriving from the United States, the accurate Morikawa should be able to get to grips with the course as well as any of them.
"Being a coastal location, which means frequently changeable weather conditions, an ability to scramble successfully is usually important.
"With this in mind, Ian Poulter could be a strong e/w shout. The 45-year-old has enjoyed a consistent run of performances this year, highlighted by a podium finish at Colonial Country Club in Texas. His two previous starts at The Renaissance Club have yielded finishes of T6 and T14."
Andy Swales has the lowdown on the course and form as the PGA Tour moves to a venue that's known for producing low scores...
Andy says: "The highest-ranked pro teeing-up is world No 16 Daniel Berger, with just three of the top-40 taking part. It is one of those rare weeks, when the PGA Tour plays second fiddle to its European equivalent.
"One player combining a good course history, with strong current form, is Brian Harman. The world No 46 is a former champion at TPC Deere Run and in his last nine starts has only once finished outside the top 20.
"Another player with respectable course and current form is 42-year-old Kevin Streelman. The world No 53 has had three T10s at Deere Run, is currently enjoying his best season since 2014, and remains pretty solid from tee-to-green."
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