Sweden's Jens Dantorp leads with a round to go at Gullane, but with 25 players within four of his lead, the Scottish Open is wide open. Read our man's take on the tournament here...
“It was impossible not to feel sorry for Fox at last week’s Irish Open. He knows how unlucky he was and how well he played and in what is a very difficult event to predict now, I’m happy to take a small chance on him gaining immediate compensation.”
09:00 - July 15, 2018
The weather forecast for the Scottish Open yesterday had suggested a mildly breezy morning with the wind calming in the afternoon but it transpired to pick up as the day wore on and the halfway leaders certainly got the worst of it. As a result, the 54 hole leaderboard looks considerably different this morning. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 08:50.
Jens Dantorp -13 [20.0]
Rickie Fowler -12 [5.0]
Matthew Fitzpatrick -12 [9.4]
Alexander Bjork -12 [11.0]
Ryan Fox -12 [11.5]
Scott Hend -12 [25.0]
Tyrrell Hatton -11 [10.0]
Russell Knox -11 [13.0]
Aaron Rai -11 [44.0]
-10 and [16.5] bar
Yesterday's weather has blown the tournament wide open and we're set for a fantastic afternoon's entertainment. My pre-event pick, Eddie Pepperell, is one of seven players tied for 11th and just three off the lead and in-play picks, Tyrrell Hatton and Alexander Bjork, are still in-the-mix but I've added one more - Mike Norman's each-way pick, Ryan Fox.
It was impossible not to feel sorry for Fox at last week's Irish Open, when he did absolutely nothing wrong to lose out in extra time to Russell Knox. The Scotsman holed two absolute bombs, one at the 18th in regulation play to tie the Kiwi, and one at the first extra hole. Fox knows how unlucky he was and how well he played and in what is a very difficult event to predict now, I'm happy to take a small chance on him gaining immediate compensation.
Over at the John Deere Classic, after rain disrupted the event for several hours during yesterday's third round, the day finally ended with halfway leader, Michael Kim, birdying the last four holes to kick clear of the field. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 08:55.
The two tournaments couldn't be more contrasting this week and it's very hard to get enthused about this one. Kim turned 25 yesterday and this it the first time he's ever led a PGA Tour event. He came in to the tournament with form figures reading MC-MC-18-MC-MC-MC so it perhaps isn't too surprising that he was matched at [800.0] before the off but he really should convert from here.
Since 1996, 26 players have led by five strokes with a round to go on the PGA Tour and 22 of them went on to win. That's an 84.6% strike-rate so the [1.43] on offer about Kim isn't too short.
This is a no-bet heat for me now and I'm happy to move on to next week's Open Championship. I'll be back sometime this evening with my preview.
22:10 - July 13, 2018
England's, Robert Rock, who spends as much time coaching as he does playing nowadays, is without a bogey through 36 holes at Gullane and he leads the Scottish Open by two. Here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 22:00.
Robert Rock -13 [7.2]
Tyrrell Hatton -11 [5.8]
Jens Dantorp -11 [32.0]
Rickie Fowler -10 [5.0]
Eddie Pepperell -10 [19.5]
Lee Westwood -9 [23.0]
Haotong Li -9 [25.0]
Alexander Bjork -9 [29.0]
Scott Fernandez -9 [180.0]
-8 and [18.5] bar
Rickie Fowler sat 13th and five off the pace at this stage here three years ago so it's no surprise to see him trading as the favourite given he's only three back this time but he's short enough for me. He pounced late to win in 2015, birdying three of the last four holes, and he's the sort of character I'd rather paly at a bigger price, slightly further off the pace. As classy as he is, he just doesn't win often enough for my liking.
Tyrrell Hatton continued to struggle off the tee today but I'm in no rush to lay yesterday's bet back. The rough is far from penal so missing fairways is rarely a problem and his putting was again very good. And judging by this effort on the 15th, his scrambling skills are on point this week too.
I know he leads by two but it's hard to make a case for Rock. He hasn't won for more than six years and he's barely contended since, so it's difficult to imagine he'll hold off so many great players over the weekend.
Eddie Pepperell was one of my pre-event picks so I enjoyed watching his charge today and I'm hopeful he can hang around but I've still added two more to the portfolio. China's Haotong Li took to links golf straight away and finished like a train to grab fourth on debut in last year's Open. I thought he looked over-priced at [25.0] and I've also added Dave Tindall's each-way pick, Alexander Bjork, at [30.0].
The second round of the John Deere Classic is well underway and live on Sky Sports but I still haven't got involved in-running. Francesco Molinari's hot streak is continuing and since he posted his second round five-under-par 66 this morning he's done nothing but shorten up and he's now trading at less than 3/1.
None of the other pre-tournament market leaders have turned up and other than Molly, it looks like a weak leaderboard. I can see why he's shortened up and he could well go on to win again but I'm more than happy to let him go unbacked. I'll have a proper look in the morning but I'm pretty sure I'll be leaving the tournament alone until the conclusion of round three.
23:00 - July 12, 2018
Without a two-tee start in operation, the Scottish Open tee times for the first two rounds are spread over more than nine hours. The first group are out at 06:30 and the last group starts at 15:40 so it's a long day but everyone is playing the course conventionally, starting at the first, and the front-nine is considerably easier than the back. The three easiest holes on the course are all encountered in the first half-a-dozen holes.
Rickie Fowler was matched at just [2.9] this morning, when he reached seven-under-par after a dozen holes, and then Patrick Reed touched [4.5] this afternoon after he played the front-nine in just 29 strokes. That put the US Masters winner on six-under-par for the tournament at the turn but he failed to birdie another hole and he bogeyed the 16th.
They may have stuttered on the back-nine but Fowler trails first round leader, Luke List, by just a stroke and Reed is just two back and the pair dominate the market.
With 25 players within three strokes of List's lead, it's a wide-open affair but I was happy to make an early move on links specialist, Tyrrell Hatton, who I backed for next week's Open Championship when I looked at next week's major at Christmas.
Hatton, who's alongside Reed and one of my pre-event picks, Matthew Southgate, on five-under-par, has won the last two editions of the Alfred Dunhill Links tournament and I can see him getting another links win here. He was poor from tee-to-green today but his putting was brilliant and if he can just find the fairways with a bit more regularity tomorrow morning he could be the man to beat.
Scottish Open Pre-Event Selections:
Louis Oosthuizen @ [36.0] - NON-RUNNER
Chris Wood @ [55.0]
Eddie Pepperell @ [120.0]
Matt Wallace @ [130.0]
Matthew Southgate @ [140.0]
Marc Warren @ [230.0]
David Horsey @ [310.0]
John Deere Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Austin Cook @ [55.0]
Scott Stallings @ [95.0]
Whee Kim @ [140.0]
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