Paul Lawrie Matchplay – Thur 30th July from 12:30 live on Sky Sports 4
The European Tour and Paul Lawrie have teamed up to produce a new event, the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay. It’ll be a part of the European Tour schedule for the next three years and with a purse of €1million, 64 of the leading players on the Race to Dubai will play against each other in a straight knock-out. Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay head the betting, but due to the straight knockout format, backing the outsiders may be the best strategy.
This week’s venue is Mucar Links Golf Club which is located in northern Aberdeen, Scotland. Golf has been played at Mucar Links for over 100 years, however this will be the first time it has hosted a European Tour event. The course is a par 71 that’ll play a very short 6,409 yards, and as the name suggests, it is a links golf course and links golf is very a different test to that encountered most weeks on tour. Therefore, the ability to perform well on a links golf course is imperative and for this reason I’ve looked closely at each individual’s links record.
Thomas Aiken – Back in 2013, Thomas Aiken reached the semi-finals of the Volvo World Matchplay Championship, beating Ian Poulter, Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari, before losing against Thongchai Jaidee. Aiken comes into this week off the back of a good season so far, he’s ranked 48го in the Race to Dubai and finished 25го in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay recently. As I’ve mentioned above the ability to play links courses well is important this week and the 32 year old finished 7го in the Open Championship in 2012 and has also played well in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship previously.
1.5pts each way @ 50/1
Andrew Johnston – After an excellent year on the Challenge Tour in 2014, Andrew Johnston earned his European Tour card. The Englishman had a superb start to the season, however he has since struggled, but in the past few weeks he appears to have rediscovered some form. Admittedly, he missed the cut by one shot in last week’s European Masters, but before that he’d made three consecutive cuts and finished 17го in the Scottish Open, which is played on a links golf course. Finally, it is worth noting that Johnston’s first Challenge Tour win came in Scotland and I can’t see much downside in backing him at a three figure price.
0.75pts each way @ 100/1
Mark Foster – This week’s short venue should suit Mark Foster who isn’t the longest of hitters. He’s made the cut in his last four starts and this includes a 27го place finish in the Open de France recently. Foster played well from tee to green in Switzerland last week hitting 72.2% of greens in regulation, however he had poor week on the greens. The Englishman’s record on links courses is pretty good, he tied for 27го in the 2014 Scottish Open and 14го in 2011. Finally, Foster’s also performed well regularly in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, finishing inside the top 25 in three of his last four starts.
0.75pts each way @ 125/1
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