TOMMY FLEETWOOD gave me another winner last week as the 22-1 chance triumphed at the French Open.
Now I turn my attention to the next big event on the European Tour and the Rory Foundation is once again the host for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the magnificent Portstewart Golf Club.
The Strand Course is regarded by many as having the best opening hole in Ireland and the 7118 yard par 72 is a true links test and is the first of three links tournaments in a row culminating in The Open. So there are a lot of players here who will be honing their skills for Royal Birkdale.
With no course form to look at it I'm focusing on players who have played well on links courses and probably GIR and putting.
When I was looking through records of players taking part in links tournaments last year Tyrrell Hatton’s record stood out. In the three top links competitions he didn't finish outside the top five – the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (1st), Scottish Open (2nd) and The Open (T5th).
He hasn’t pushed on this year as much as I thought he would but his form on links courses should be taken into account. Last year at the Alfred Dunhill he shot a record-equalling 62 in the third round so I have not doubt he will play well at Portstewart. With one top 10 this year he hasn’t really hit the heights but this time last year he was in the same position. Well worth a gamble. GIR: 72.6% (28th) Putting Average: 29.3 (69th).
Another odd stat I noticed while checking on Hideki Matsuyama was how he played in the US Open reflected on his performance in The Open. In 2013 he had a top-10 finish in the US Open, same at The Open, 2014 in top 40 in both, 2015 top 20 in both, 2016 missed cut in both.
With his T2 at the US Open this year it all looks good for this year’s Open but I also think with his return to form he might be worth a wager this week. He finished sixth in 2013 at Muirfield so can play links golf, although he hasn’t performed too well since then. *GIR: 70.11% (7th)*Putting Average: 28.9 (79th). *PGA Stats.
Another good links player is Dane Thjorborn Olesen, winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2015. He’s not the straightest of hitters off the tee but more than makes up for it with his short game. Having said that he was T8 for driving accuracy last week when he tied for third in the French Open.
He was also second in putting and his game looks a really good shape at the moment having also finished T4 at the Nordea Masters. GIR:68.3% (94th)Putting Average: 28.5 (24th).
1.5pts ew Tyrrell Hatton (Betfair, 35-1)
1.5pts ew Hideki Matsuyama (Ladbrokes, 10-1)
1.5pts ew Thjorborn Olesen (bet365, 33-1)