THE Alfred Dunhill Links Championship hosted at the home of golf signals the last leg of the European Tour season proper with the final series then closing out the Race To Dubai.
The pro-am format and the slot in the calendar which is usually behind the Ryder Cup every other year are two reasons that throw up some random trends and results in this event and we've seen some real under the radar winners like Ollie Wilson here at St Andrews in 2014.
It was Tyrell Hatton who took down his maiden title last season in a tournament that included a course record tying 62 at the Old Course.
The tournament will, as per usual, alternate between three courses on the rotation – Carnoustie, which is one of the toughest links tracks in the UK, Kingsbarns and St Andrews, with the Old Course taking centre stage on Sunday.
Easy course set-up along with the weather and potential draw bias on the links are two key variables in the outcome of the event, with pin positions accessible for the amateurs.
Kingsbarns can usually be blitzed with both Branden Grace (20-1, Unibet) and Peter Uihlein shooting 60s there in recent years but if benign St Andrews is actually arguably the easiest of the three. All three of the courses are links tracks and each play to a par of 72. They average around 7300 yards and scoring should be low again.
Leading the market this week is Rory McIlroy (11-2, Unibet) who tees it up with his father in the pro-am. McIlroy has a stellar record here without actually winning. The Northern Irishman came close last week in the British Masters finishing runner-up to Paul Dunne (28-1, Unibet).
Dunne of course led the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2015 after 54 holes. There are four guys really simmering on the European Tour now though and any or all could hit that top form before the end of the season. All four have course form here at the Alfred Dunhill links.
George Coetzee (33-1, Unibet) is one of those who shares the course record at the Old Course and his form line reads T3, T7, T15 and big George opened with a 63 at Close House last week.
His game is nearly in full throttle and his last three appearances in this event read 5, 25, 25. The Saffa has the current course and progressive trending concoction ahead of the event.
Another South African Richard Sterne (50-1, Unibet) has a really solid record in 10 appearances in the Alfred Dunhill Links and his last two starts here read 6, 2, with the runner-up to Hatton in 2016.
I mentioned last week he's a real one to watch for the end of the season now he's injury free with a strong run of tournaments under his belt. Again, just one poor round last week cost him carding 69, 65 , 74 and 65 to add a slightly deceptive T31 to a string of recent top 20s.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (50-1, Unibet) is a multiple winner on tour and was T4th here in 2015 after opening with a 75. His recent form line is 16, 9, MC, 20 but the T9 at the KLM tells no true story. The Thai led late on in that event and arguably should have won it before twice finding water. He was only a shot off third place and worth getting onside again here in Scotland.
The last of the four is a man with pedigree in some adverse weather conditions and on links or links-type windy tracks. Again Mikko Ilonen (80-1, Unibet) is simmering big time right now with form of 8, 17, 5, 25 and 20.
The Finn owns a string of top 30s in this event. Mikko won the Amateur Championship in 2000 at Royal Liverpool and the West of Ireland amateur, as well as the Irish Open, as a pro. That is just one of five European Tour wins.
He also has a T16 and another top-10 finish in The Open championship in the books. Ilonen has been runner-up in windy links style Qatar, only losing in a playoff, and also in breezy Morocco. Strong claims this week at a big price.