The Scottish Open can often be a minefield for punters as the players fine tune their games for the third major which takes place a week later. After a two year break the event returns to Castle Stuart in Inverness. Luke Donald, Jeev Milkha Singh and Phil Mickelson won around here during the three years it held the event from 2011 to 2013. The course is not overly long and the fairways are wide. It'll take quite a low score to win here this week so in and around the greens will be key to posting a top number. Plenty of putts will need to be holed to contend come the weekend.
Henrik Stenson is tagged as tournament jolly this week and considering his fine form must hold every chance of playing well here. He finished 8th and 3rd here in his two outings at Castle Stuart and it is hard not to see him playing well again. A fair amount of luck is needed with links golf and with some changeable, although not drastic, weather throughout the four days I'm not that keen on taking single figures in quite a strong field. Branden Grace is another in fine form and these two will certainly be looking towards next week. Both of them have proper chances of landing their first major at Troon and I'd far rather wait until then and get a bit jucier prices on the pair.
This is a tournament which I don't like to get heavily involved with but I'll be having three relatively small-stake bets to get the ball rolling on the week. Thorbjorn Olesen withdrew after round one of the Open De France last week but tees it up in Scotland and I'm happy to conclude from that there is little problem. His three outings at Castle Stuart have all been modest enough showings but he arrives here with a red hot putter and should it be firing again I can easily see the Dane competing over the weekend. He has a host of top finishes on tour despite only being on the scene around five years. Most notably he has won and finished 2nd at the Alfred Dunhill LInks and has shown a proper affinity for playing golf in the wind. The Sicilian Open he won in 2012 was another exposed layout by the sea. Things aren't ideal with the withdrawal last week but previous to that he finished 2nd in the BMW and coming back to the links golf that he loves he must be supported.
Another who hasn't had the ideal preparation heading into this week is Kiradech Aphibarnrat. He finished well down the field at Firestone but previous to that showed some serious form to finish 5th in the BMW. His form prior to that is woeful. However, this could be a week where he could bounce back to the form he showed two weeks ago. The fairways are as wide as you can get and he loves to open his shoulders and rip the ball out there. He did that on his way to very nearly winning the Alfred Duinhill Links last year before dropping shots at a crucial time on the back nine on Sunday. He did show a liking for Links golf once again when he went to Scotland and won the Paul Lawrie Matchplay. In a week where it can be a minefield punting I'm happy enough to have smaller bets on these lads who have the potential to play their best golf around links courses.
Finally, I thought Matt Fitzpatrick was a shade overpriced. Once again we're backing another fella with a bad result last week. A missed cut at the French isn't ideal, especially because it should favour his game. He is struggling to adapt to some courses though and is showing signs of immaturity now and then. Nevertheless a few weeks ago he notched his second win on tour in Sweden and is fulfilling the billing I have given him over the last 12 months. A future major winner in the making in my opinion and has every part of the game in great nick when on song. This week I want to be on his side simply because of his touch in and around the greens. His putter has returned somewhat to the level it was late last season and if he can cope with the demands of the links test then the price of 45/1 might look a shade inflated come the weekend.