Scottish Open 2016 – Castle Stuart Golf Links live on Sky Sports 4
The Scottish Open has been a mainstay on the European Tour itinerary since 1986 with four tournaments held prior to that, the first being way back in 1935. Since 2011 the tournament has been held on a traditional links course and given its place in the calendar, a week before The Open, this change has attracted some of the world’s best players to compete in the Scottish Open as a warm-up for the third major of the year. Four of the last five winners have been top class, with other major champions Martin Kaymer and Graeme Mcowell also victors of this fine event since 2008. Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry and Branden Grace are the big names teeing it up this week in Scotland.
Castle Stuart Golf Links is a reasonably short 7,193 yard par-72 layout that sits on the banks of the Moray Firth, just outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The four par fives often play the easiest holes on the course and five of the par fours are sub 403 yards – extremely short by modern standards. If the wind doesn’t blow too hard, we can expect a winning score around the -20 mark. Expect some great views out towards the Kessock Bridge and the Chanory Bridge.
Thursday morning is looking like the trickiest time to be out on the course with wind forecast to be around the 12-16 mph mark. They are due to drop to 7mph by the afternoon. Friday is looking like winds will be consistently around the 8mph mark all day. Expect intermittent showers throughout rounds one and two. Saturday will be similar to Friday with Sunday the driest day of the four. At this stage a late-early draw could be worth an extra shot or two than an early-late due to those Thursday AM winds.
Previous Winners & Key Stats
2015 (Gullane GC) – Rickie Fowler -12 (DA: 65th, DD 28th, GIR 59th, PPGIR 5th, Scrambles 20/25)
2014 (Royal Aberdeen GC) – Justin Rose -16 (DA 4th, DD 5th, GIR 9th, PPGIR 12th, Scrambles 14/18)
2013 (Castle Stuart GC) – Phil Mickelson -17 (DA 36th, DD 7th, GIR 10st, PPGIR 13th, Scrambles 24/28)
2012 (Castle Stuart GC) – Jeev Milkha Singh -17 (DA 52nd, DD 13th, GIR 38rd, PPGIR 41st, Scrambles 14/17)
2011* (Castle Stuart GC) – Luke Donald -19 (DA 9th, DD 67th, GIR 2nd, PPGIR 14th, Scrambles 3/5) – *54-hole event
This looks a tricky one to fathom out as the leaderboards from the three Castle Stuart Scottish Open renewals are a right miss-match of bombers and plotters. Big hitting, inaccurate types such as Colsaerts, JB Hansen, Siem and Cabrera all have top ten finishes here alongside shorter, accurate golfers such as Whiteford, Tullo, Levet, Price, Molinari and Jacquelin.
Mickelson won at Castle Stuart in 2013 with form coming in reading MC, T2, T2, MC, 3. Singh’s 2012 win came having been on the back of 46, T30, MC, T7 whereas Luke Donald was at the peak of his powers in 2011 with form reading T45, T7, 1, T4, T8.
What is clear is that this is likely to be a low-scoring event, so having someone in form that is hitting lots of greens and putting well look to be crucial ingredients. Scrambling also looks key to winning a Scottish Open and in particular at Castle Stuart – previous winners Mickelson and Donald are two of the best up and downers in the business.
There will be a constant breeze all week, so I’ll be concentrating on golfers that can handle windy conditions – in fairness this should be a pre-requisite for any event held on a links course.
Finally, it is always worth mentioning that 53 of the last 62 European Tour winners (non-majors) have had at least one top 10 in their five appearances prior to their win.
Patrick Reed 28/1 EW
On the face of it, Patrick Reed isn’t in the best form at the moment. The putter has been a little cold all year (for his high standards) and his driving at Firestone last week was at times way off-line. None of that particularly worries me this week, as I believe a change in scene and a return to the European Tour could be exactly what the silky-handed Texan could need to get his 2016 going again. Having grown up playing a lot of his junior golf in windy conditions, any breeze will only add to his chances against the field. With scrambling a potentially vital stat this week, there are few better to have onside than Patrick.
Soren Kjeldsen 55/1 EW
Last year’s Irish Open champion currently sits just inside the coveted world’s top 50 and returns back to Europe after a reasonably successful time Stateside. Since finishing T7 at Augusta, Kjeldsen has registered a T4 in Spain and a T19 in Ireland. His best showing Stateside was a T20 at the Memorial Tournament in which he posted 69 and 64 over rounds two and three. Last week saw a T42 in the WGC at Firestone as the likeable Dane sat out the Open de France. What was most promising was his closing two rounds of 70 and 71 which shows his game is in good order. Throw in course form that includes making the weekend 3/3 and a best of T5, and Soren looks a great price.
George Coetzee 100/1 EW
If we are going on current form, Coetzee may look an odd pick. No finish better than T21 since he won a low-grade Sunshine Tour event back in February, Coetzee hasn’t featured on leaderboards of late. That said T21 was made last week at the devilishly tough Firestone during the WGC and what caught my eye was the consistent 71, 72, 71, 69 scoring, suggesting George’s game is close to peaking. A master of traditionally windy course such as Qatar, Gleneagles and Mauritius, Coetzee excels at links golf – he has a T3 to his name at Castle Stuart, made back in 2011.
Pablo Larrazabal 125/1 EW
A tricky player to time right, four-time European Tour winner Larrazabal can be a frustrating golfer to have on side. Last week’s MC in France was down to being +4 thru 4 holes and a wonky driver (131st in the field for DA) but this week at Castle Stuart, that shouldn’t be such a key stat. A streaky putter, Pablo has a T12 and T9 in 2 of his last 4 events and should feature this week on a course in which he finished inside the top 20 back in 2012 courtesy of rounds of 67, 70, 66, 73. Pablo has a low ball flight and is a top class scrambler – two key ingredients to succeed on the links.
Prices correct at time of writing.
Eastbridge now fully licensed in the UK!