The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Odds-on Aberg two clear at the Renaissance

Golfer Ludvig Aberg
Ludvig Aberg in action in round two

There's a round to go at both this week's co-sanctioned events - the Scottish Open and ISCO Championship - so Steve Rawlings is back with his final in-running thoughts on the week's golf here...

10:20 - July 14, 2024

Back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12 only temporarily halted Ludvig Aberg's charge in round three of the Scottish Open yesterday.

Birdies at 13, 15 and 16 soon followed and the halfway leader goes into today's final round two clear of the home hero, Robert MacIntyre, three in front of Aussie veteran, Adam Scott, and four clear of the remainder. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:10.

Ludvig Aberg -17 1.824/5
Robert MacIntyre -15 6.611/2
Adam Scott -14 14.5
Collin Morikawa -13 15.5
Sungjae Im -13 25.024/1
Sahith Theegala -13 27.026/1
Antoine Rozner -13 60.059/1
Rory McIlroy -12 22.021/1
Erik Van Rooyen -12 80.079/1
Matteo Manassero -12 160.0159/1
-10 and 250.0249/1 bar

In five previous editions of the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club, three 54-hole leaders have gone on to win but none of the three did so with ease and the other two editions were won by players form off the pace.

Bernd Wiesberger converted a two-stroke lead in 2019 but only in a playoff and after Frenchman, Benjamin Hebert, who had trailed by seven after three rounds, had been matched at 1.021/50 in extra time.

Xander Schauffele, who also led by two, looked like throwing the event away two years ago when he bogeyed three holes in four before the turn. He drifted out to 3.02/1, having earlier been matched at 1.351/3, and MacIntyre was matched at a low of just 1.141/7 last year before Rory McIlroy rallied and birdied the last two holes to pip him.

Min Woo Lee was a 60.059/1 chance before round four when he won from tied fifth and three back in 2021 and 12 months earlier, Aaron Rai was trading at 95.094/1 after 54 holes when he won from five strokes back!

We've had all sorts of drama here every year so the chances of Aberg serenely cruising to victory look slim and I'm happy to swerve him at odds-on.

The Swede has led twice after three rounds previously and it looks like he learnt massively from his first experience.

Aberg led the BMW Championship by two strokes in September last year but finished 10th after a disappointing 76 on Sunday around Wentworth but he was magnificent at the RSM Classic just two months later, shooting a second consecutive 61 around the Seaside Course at Sea Island to win by four.

I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see the world number four kick on and claim the title but given what we've witnessed here over the last five years, he's just too short to play.

MacIntyre will get plenty of support as he looks to become the first Scottish winner this century but he's only fairly priced.

He came from off the pace in poor conditions last year but he'll be under pressure from the get-go today.

Adam Scott looks a very fair price at around the 14/115.00 mark. The 43-year-old is a quite brilliant links exponent, and he really should have won the Open Championship in 2012.

He had a great chance to lift the Claret Jug again in 2015 so he's an interesting runner next week at Troon at around the 100/1101.00 mark in the Open Championship market but he's only won once in the last eight years (at the 2020 Genesis Invitational) so that's quite a sizable negative, both this week and next.

Collin Morikawa ranks first for Putting Average so far this week (Aberg ranks second) so that's a positive but he's been disappointing in-contention for some time. He looks correctly priced and the only one that I'd have had shorter than he currently trades at is Rory.

Trailing by five, the defending champion has plenty to do but we all know he's capable of unparalleled brilliance if he gets on a roll.

He's generally a 14/115.00 chance on the High Street and that does look a bit short, but I had him in at around the 18/119.00 mark so was happy to play him at 22.021/1.

Rory McIlroy at the Scottish Open.jpg

We look set for a great day's golf so it's extremely disappointing to see the leaders going off so late, presumably to suit American TV audiences. If we get a playoff it is going to clash with the big match tonight, and that seems bonkers to me.

If anything, they would have been sensible to have moved the start time forward, but on the other hand, how many in the States, and it is a PGA Tour event now after all, are going to give two hoots about the Euros final?

Anyway, I do care, and for that reason, I'm leaving the ISCO Championship alone.

Pierson Coody regained the lead with a back-nine rally around Keene Trace after a wobbly front nine yesterday and he's the 3.9 favourite but he's only one in front of Harry Hall and Rico Hoey, with a further three players tied for fourth and just two off the lead, so it's a tight affair.

10:00 - July 13, 2024

Just a very quick update to inform that the weather today isn't going to be quite as benign as forecasted late last night.

The wind isn't predicted to be really strong but it is forecasted to gust at up to 17 mph so we may get a bit of volatility on the leaderboard today after all.

Nothing's really changed though, it still looks like a really tough event to call.

09:00 - July 13, 2024

With conditions benign, the scoring has been low at the Renaissance Club and at the halfway stage of the Scottish Open, four players have reached double-digits under-par.

Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:50.

Ludvig Aberg -12 2.942/1
Antoine Rozner -11 26.025/1
Sungjae Im -10 13.012/1
Matteo Manassero -10 44.043/1
Rory McIlroy -9 7.413/2
Collin Morikawa -9 12.011/1
Sahith Theegala -9 26.025/1
Alex Noren -9 30.029/1
Rasmus Hojgaard -9 36.035/1
Alejandro Del Rey -9 160.0159/1
Robert MacIntyre -8 38.037/1
-8 and 46.045/1 bar

The Renaissance Club has hosted the last five editions of the Scottish Open and we've seen two halfway leaders win and two victors from off the pace. The 2022 winner, Xander Schauffele, was fourth and four back after 36 holes.

The defending champion, Rory McIlroy, led by a stroke at this stage last year and Bernd Wiesberger was tied for the lead at halfway when he beat Benjamin Hebert in a playoff in 2019 but the 2021 winner. Min Woo Lee, sat tied for 23rd and six off the lead at this stage, and the 2020 winner, Aaron Rai, was tied for 28th and eight adrift after 36 holes.

Given the forecast suggests very little change in the weather and a largely benign weekend, we should probably be concentrating on the leaders. It's harder to make up ground when the scoring is low so the only logical place to start is with the leader, Ludvig Aberg.

Although he only turned pro last June, the world number four has already led or co-led at the midway point four times previously and he's gone on to win once.

Having led by a stroke after 36 and 54 holes, he went on to win his first PGA Tour title at the RSM Classic in November last year in fine style by four strokes.

He didn't do an awful lot wrong at the weather -shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, when he shot 67 in the third round to lose by a stroke to Wyndham Clark, who shot 60, but he finished 10th at the BMW PGA Championship in September last year (led by two after round three!) and he finished 12th at the US Open last month having led by a stroke at halfway.

Putting has been key here in previous renewals and he ranks ninth for Putting Average at the halfway stage, so that's a big plus, but he looks short enough for my liking at less than 2/13.00.

Trailing by three, Rory is an obvious danger to Aberg and he's more than capable of going low enough over the weekend to make a successful defence, but his stats aren't great at the halfway stage.

On the same score as Rory, the 2021 Open Champion, Collin Morikawa, is putting nicely but he's won only one title since his victory at Royal St George's, and he hasn't impressed in-contention of late.

Having backed Sungjae Im to win the Open on Thursday at 200.0199/1, I've now also backed him to win here at what looks a fair price.

He's playing nicely and he's only two off the pace, so I thought 13.5 was fair but it's a very difficult tournament to call and my wager is modest.

My 300.0299/1 Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Mackenzie Hughes, is only four back so I'm hopeful he'll hang around over the weekend and I've had a very speculative little bet on course specialist, Tommy Fleetwood.

The popular Englishman has plenty to do from six back but he's more than capable of going really low over the weekend and I thought 90.089/1 was fair.

Over at the ISCO Championship, the first-round leader, Pierson Coody, birdied three of his last five holes to lead by two at halfway and he's back to trading at around 7/24.50. That's the same price as he was on Friday morning, although he was matched at a s high as 5.49/2 on Thursday night.

The pre-event 55.054/1 chance looks a fair price after yesterday's fine finish but I'm happy to leave the event alone given I'll be watching the Euros final tomorrow night.

22:30 - July 11, 2024

As suspected, the scoring remained good this afternoon at the Scottish Open and two players passed the morning leaders -Sungjae Im and Justin Thomas.

Justin Thomas at the Scottish Open 2024.jpg

Im, who's price has almost halved for next week's Open Championship, shot seven-under-par but it's Justin Thomas that leads following an immaculate eight-under-par 62.

Rory McIlroy, who was matched at a low of 4.03/1 this morning is vying for favouritism with Thomas and Sweden's Ludvig Aberg, who shot a six-under-par 64.

All three are trading at 7.87/1.

Today's afternoon starters shot 0.42 of a stroke better than the morning starters and they'll be licking their lips in the morning if the weather forecast is correct.

There'll be barely any wind again tomorrow and scoring should continue to be low.

In fact, with benign conditions predicted throughout the weekend, the tournament record of 22-under-par could be broken.

With that in mind, we should probably be focussing on the leaders but the stats at the Renaissance Club suggest that mind not be a good plan so I'm going to hang fire for now.

Last year's winner, Rory, sat third after round one but he's the only winner in five previous renewals here to be inside the top-20 after round one.

14:10 - July 11, 2024

The ISCO Championship in Kentucky has only just started but the week's main event, the co-sanctioned Scottish Open is well underway with the afternoon starters beginning their opening rounds.

Germany's Max Kieffer and China's Haotong Li lead after both bogeyed their final holes to post six-under-par 64s but the defending champion, Rory McIlroy is not far behind them having just signed for a five-under-par 65.

Rory, who has shortened up into 9.417/2 to win next week's Open Championship after his smart start, has just described the Renaissance Club as "as gettable as you're going to get this golf course" and that's spot on.

Having been softened by rain, the scoring has been low in the benign conditions, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see one or two afternoon starters go lower than Kieffer and Li but, as highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, a slow start can be overcome at this venue so I'm sitting on my hands for now.

Scottish Open Pre-event picks:
Tom Kim @ 30.029/1
Ryan Fox @ 90.089/1

In-Play Picks:
Sungjae Im @ 13.5
Tommy Fleetwood @ 90.089/1
Rory McIlroy @ 22.021/1

Find Me a 100 Winner column

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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