WITH the Greenbrier Classic cancelled due to flooding this week it will be the Scottish Open and the US Women’s Open supplying my selections.
Castle Stuart is a classic links golf course on the Moray Firth, which only opened in 2009. In its three years of hosting the Scottish Open (2011, 2012 and 2013) it has had an eventful time.
It was restricted to 54 holes in the first year (won by Luke Donald) due to flooding and the next two went to play-offs, won by Jeev Mikha Singh (2012) and Phil Mickelson (2013) who then went on to win The Open the following week.
All links courses are renowned for their undulations but Castle Stuart has its “rumples”. Some fairways can be flat in certain areas and rumpled in others causing differences in lie and stance. The natural bunkers are derivative of early open sandy areas and can create issues for aggressive play.
Scrambling will probably be the most important stat this week with GIR and putting not far behind. When it comes to scrambling there’s not many better than American Patrick Reed who is 8th on the PGA Tour with 64.88% stat.
I’ve tipped him a few times this season but although he’s been steady on the PGA Tour that elusive win has not yet come. At the end of last year he played the first four tournaments on the European Tour and didn’t finish out of the top 10.
Another American you can’t leave out is Big Phil. Mickelson won here in 2013 and followed that up by taking The Open at Muirfield a week later. He is 14th in the scrambling stats with 63.49% and having won here before obviously likes the set up. He missed the cut in the US Open but had been playing well before that. Really find it hard to leave him out of my picks this week.
After a bad start in the French Open last week Rafa Cabrera-Bello fought his way back and finished off with a four-under 67 for fourth place. He’s not had a win since the Dubai Classic in 2012 but it’s not for the want of trying. He has had five top 10s this year (four of them top fives) and although his scrambling stats aren’t great (54.9%, 74th) I just have a feeling hell be worth watching.
After missing the cut at The Masters South African Branden Grace has had a good run of tournaments including winning the RBC Heritage, T5 at the US Open and a T10 at the French Open last week. He also won the Qatar Masters on the European Tour so the form is there. His stats are also very good. His scrambling on both sides of the Atlantic is around 61% and GIR is over 65%. A strong contender this week and definitely a pick.
Meanwhile, the Lancaster Country Club at CordeValle in California, is the host for the US Women’s Open and one group of players has three Major winners.
Brooke Henderson is the newest Major winner, defeating Lydia Ko in a play-off for the women’s PGA Championship. She has played three times in this event with a best finish of T5. Lexi Thompson has made nine starts in this tournament but has only two top-10 finishes.
New Zealander Ko has taken part since 2012 and has improved every year with a T12 last year. Ko became No.1 when she was 17 years and nine months, becoming the youngest player of either sex to become number one in professional golf. The 19-year-old is a phenomenal golfer and should see off the competition.
Women’s US Open
2pt win Lydia Ko (Betfred, 11-2)