As players get to grips with Scottish conditions, Paul Krishnamurty has identified the players best suited to links golf and scoured Betfair's wide range of speciality markets for ways to back them. Check out his portfolio here...
"Whereas Fleetwood ranks second for ball-striking over the last three months, Broberg is third. This highly talented yet streaky prospect was runner-up last year and is in good spirits at the moment."
Back to Lays
The Scottish Open is usually won by at least a relatively big European Tour name, with Jeev Milkha Singh (a multiple winner, nonetheless) representing the only shock in the last seven renewals. Yet while there are some stars at the top of the market, it isn't that daunting after Rory McIlroy's withdrawal. Most notably the American contingent, boasting limited links golf pedigree and with Open preparations on their mind, looks well worth opposing.
So whereas in majors, for example, it can be extremely difficult getting a mid-ranking player to shorten up when in contention because of the big name traffic around them, it may not take that much this week for a respected player trading above 50.049/1 to drop below 20.019/1. First-round contention may be enough to do the trick.
So let's try back to lays on three perfectly plausible winners in that price range. The plan in each case is to place lay orders worth four times the initial stake, thus at least quadrupling our money on that trade. One lay target hit from any of them will secure an overall profit, whilst leaving a substantial extra profit on the win.
Back Tommy Fleetwood 5u @ 55.054/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 10.09/1
As explained in detail in our each-way column, I am very sweet on Tommy Fleetwood's chances over the next fortnight. He tweeted the other day from the venue how impressed he was the course and how well he was hitting it. This is a star in the making, on a progressive path, set for his ideal conditions around a UK links.
Back Kristoffer Broberg 4u @ 75.074/1
Place order to lay 16u @ 15.014/1
In making that each-way pick, Broberg would have made a tempting alternative but Dan Geraghty beat me to it! Whereas Fleetwood ranks second for ball-striking over the last three months, Broberg is third. This highly talented yet streaky prospect was runner-up last year and is in good spirits at the moment, finishing top-13 in three of his last four events, never ranking worse than 14th for greens in regulation.
Back Chris Wood 4u @ 80.079/1
Place order to lay 16u @ 15.014/1
Less than a month ago, Wood defied single-figure odds as second-favourite in the Lyoness Open. Two missed cuts later and he's a forgotten man in the market. This must be an over-reaction, especially given his links record and love of the forecast breezy conditions. Wood has finished fifth and third in Open Championships and made the top-15 in the last three Dunhill Links.
Back Justin Rose to beat Phil Mickelson 8u @ 1.84/5
July just wouldn't be the same if I wasn't trying to get against Phil Mickelson on links courses. For 20 years, I've made a point of opposing him in matchbets at the Open along with several times in this event. The reasoning is that it took most of his career to really get the hang of links golf, and he's never been a great wind player.
Obviously when he won the Scottish/British Open double in 2013, that argument took a hit but it stands up over the long-term. In this event, which was played at the more suitable Loch Lomond for years, he's only made the top-ten twice in ten attempts. His game was usually oozing a lot more confidence before nearly all those attempts too.
In Justin Rose, he faces a very stiff opponent. The defending champion has been flying in the States, winning the Zurich Classic and finishing runner-up at the Masters and Memorial. Only McIlroy and Garcia have better ball-striking stats over the past three months, whereas Mickelson ranks 132nd in that discipline.
As usual, the plan is to split finishing position selections across the Top 10 and Top 20 Finish market, with one winner from five required to secure a profit. For the reasons explained above and elsewhere, Tommy Fleetwood is regarded almost as a banker at 3.02/1 to make the lesser, latter target.
The other top-20 pick is Marc Warren, who would be 'first reserve' for the back to lay plan if any of them were to withdraw. Warren finished third in his national Open in both 2012 and 2014, and has since looked progressive. His best result this season was runner-up in the wind-exposed Qatar Masters, followed by five further top-25s. That includes elite company at Doral, Wentworth and he didn't fare terribly in 27th at the US Open.
Both Find Me a 100 Winner picks are recommended for the top-ten. Matthew Fitzpatrick's stellar long game - top-ranked for ball-striking over the last three months - should be perfect for links and he played great to lose by only three shots in the tough Irish Open. John Parry has links pedigree in the form of places in both this event and the Dunhill Links, plus bits and pieces of form this year
Finally, another real longshot. Tom Lewis has links pedigree, leading the Open as an amateur and finishing third in a Dunhill Links, but dire putting stats explain why he's missed recent leaderboards. Poor putters often do better on these links set-ups, especially if they've got good memories of them. Think Sergio Garcia in the Open, for example. His long game has been in good order, so it's worth a small risk that he'll find some inspiration here.
Top 10 Finish
Back Matthew Fitzpatrick 2u @ 11.010/1
Back John Parry 1u @ 20.019/1
Back Tom Lewis 1u @ 20.019/1
Top 20 Finish (Betfair Sportsbook)