Rose The Flower Of Scotland Once Again
Rory McIlroy’s withdrawal through injury leaves defending champion Justin Rose the favourite for this week’s Scottish Open.
The Scottish Open dates back to 1972 and is traditionally held the week before the British Open. It’s one of the more lucrative events on the European Tour, with a prize fund of £2.5 million. In 2013 Phil Mickelson became just the third player from the United States to win this tournament and his subsequent success at the British Open has persuaded a few more of his countrymen to enter in the last couple of years.
This is the first European Tour event ever staged at Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian so it represents an unknown quantity for most of those taking part. It’s a typical links course, featuring spectacular scenery, punishing rough and fast greens as well as some dramatic undulations, and if the current wet weather lingers long into the week, it is likely to play considerably longer than the official 7133 yards.
In The Bunker
Phil Mickelson’s victory in the 2013 edition of this tournament was the prelude to his famous win at the British Open, but I won’t be backing him to reprise that success this week. Although his form has picked up recently, he has failed three times in his last six PGA events, including at the US Open, where he finished outside the top sixty. At the moment, he’s too hit and miss to back with any confidence.
The withdrawal of Rory McIlroy leaves Justin Rose as the clear antepost favourite and he looks a good bet. A change to his swing sparked a dramatic improvement earlier in the season and after his second at the Masters, he’s added a victory at the Zurich Classic and a second at Memorial.
He picked up his seventh European Tour title at this event last year and at 14/1 is a solid bet to defend his title.
Having missed the cut in his last two outings, Rickie Fowler doesn’t stand out as a prime candidate for victory in East Lothian but I think we can overlook those two results. In the last few months, he has shown an ability to peak in time for the big tournaments and continued that trend by winning the Players Championship. Last year he warmed up for the British Open by finishing inside the top ten in this event and as one of the few PGA regulars to have taken to links golf, he’s a decent bet at 20/1.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Branden Grace. He’s enjoyed an excellent season so far, bagging two European Tour titles and after a few disappointing results in the spring, has returned to form recently, securing three top-eleven finishes in four events, including a fourth at the US Open. He has some good form in this event, finishing second behind Phil Mickelson in 2013 and at 28/1 offers a touch of value.
*Prices correct at time of publication