Steve Rawlings looks back on a terrific week for the layers which saw two huge outsiders win both events. Read our man's customary look back at all the action here...
“Now that it's staged on a links layout, playing in the Irish Open the week before the Scottish Open looks like a massive plus. Last year was the first time the Irish and the Scottish were played subsequently on links track and American, Matt Kuchar, who finished fourth, was the only player in the top-eight in Scotland that hadn't played in Ireland the week before and it was a very similar tale this time around.”
We witnessed two huge shocks on the main tours this week as 25-year-old South African, Brandon Stone, who had form figures reading MC-60-65-MC-MC-69, swooped late to claim the Scottish Open, having been matched at [1000.0] before play began and 25-year-old American, Michael Kim, whose figures were worse than Stone's, reading MC-MC-18-MC-MC-MC, was matched at [800.0] before the off at the John Deere Classic.
So bad had Stone's form in the lead-up to the event been, that he was still available to back at a triple-figure price before round four, despite only trailing by three in a tie for 11th but he opened up with a couple of birdies and that set the tone for the entire round.
My pre-event pick, Eddie Pepperell, who was generally available at [140.0] before the off, looked the most likely winner with just four holes to play and he was matched in-running at just [1.86] but with Stone charging, birdying 10, 12, 14 and 15, Pepperell faltered. He failed to birdie the par five 16th and he three-putted the par three 17th for bogey.
Stone, playing a couple of groups behind Pepperell, then eagled the 16th to make absolutely sure of victory but he couldn't quite put the icing on the cake when he missed this putt for the European Tour's first ever 59.
Over in the States, Michael Kim entered the fourth and final round with a huge five-stroke lead and after he'd birdied the first three holes on Sunday, that lead became unassailable. Francesco Molinari, who finished tied for second, and eight strokes behind Sim, was somehow matched at just [2.68] during round three.
Being a big football fan, it wasn't easy to prioritise the final round of the Scottish Open over the World Cup final but I'm glad I did. I layed Pepperrell back at [3.0] and again at [2.08] so it finished up being a decent week and a far better one than it would have been had I opted to let my bets roll and just watched the footie.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I didn't get involved in the John Deere Classic in-running so all in all in was a decent week.
What Have We Learned This Week?
Now that it's staged on a links layout, playing in the Irish Open the week before the Scottish Open looks like a massive plus. Last year was the first time the Irish and the Scottish were played subsequently on links track and American, Matt Kuchar, who finished fourth, was the only player in the top-eight in Scotland that hadn't played in Ireland the week before and it was a very similar tale this time around.
Of the 66 players to make the cut in Scotland, the Englishmen trio of Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter; classy young Australian Cameron Smith; top-class Americans, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Luke List; low-ranking Scots, Jamie McLeary and Duncan Stewart, were the only players that hadn't been in Ireland the week before. The English lads are very familiar with links golf and are all winners, the US players are all top-drawer too and I assume the two Scots knew the venue, or at the very least had plenty of links experience. It's something to bear in mind for next year and it's definitely worth considering for the Open this week.
A warm-up the week before on a links track looks a huge plus and it doesn't seem to matter whether you made the cut or not. Plenty of players improved considerably on their endeavours in Ireland, including my man, Pepperell, who had enjoyed a weekend off after a poor first two rounds in the Irish and as highlighted in my Open Championship preview, I'm convinced that playing in the Scottish will prove a big plus at Carnoustie. The result of the Scottish Open, following the Irish Open, appears to support that theory greatly.
With the Open Championship starting on Thursday (previewed here), I'll be monitoring the weather constantly as I trade the event in-running, but Saturday went to show that we can never trust the forecasts, no matter how reliable they are as a rule.
I find Windfinder.com the best for trading as it's usually super-reliable, detailing the wind brilliantly, but the forecast for Saturday suggested a bit of wind in the morning and a less breezy afternoon. Given I'd agreed to take my daughters shopping for their birthday on Saturday, and that I had a few in-contention starting later in the day, that looked ideal to me but I got caught out.
The weather didn't pan out as forecasted and the likes of the eventual winner, Stone, and others, benefitted from the wind picking up as the afternoon wore on. Having begun round three more than three hours before the leaders, Stone missed the windy conditions, posted a four-under-par 66, and moved from seven off the lead at halfway to three adrift with a round to go.
I got home too late to have reacted to the changing conditions (and who's to say I would have anyway) but a number of shrewd punters availed themselves of some decent positions on Stone et el as they realised how breezy it was getting and how tough it was going to be for the leaders on the tougher back-nine.
The eventual winner was matched in excess of [300.0] after he'd finished his third round and I know he was still a triple-figure price yesterday morning, but that was an incredible price on anyone that went on to start round four trailing by just three.
Player To Follow
With so much going on this weekend, I've no doubt missed a number of significant happenings but one thing I did notice was that Patton Kizzire, who won twice at the start of the PGA Tour season, finally found a bit of form last week after an horrendous run.
Kizzire only finished tied 30th but that's a big improvement on anything he's done for months so he's back on my radar.
I'll be back later in the week with my Barbasol Championship preview and a look at the side markets at the Open Championship but there's already plenty of Open coverage on site here.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter