Niall Lyons has seven tips for this week's Scottish Open, headlined by the reigning Open Champion Collin Morikawa.
Scottish Open Winner
The Irish Open has been the home of many fairy tales down the years and Meronk's victory marking the first Polish winner on the DPWT is another chapter in the wonderful event. We move to Scotland for the next two weeks which always provides some of the best drama over the course of the season.
The Renaissance club in Berwick is the scene once again for the fourth year on the trot and rates one of the easier Links tracks we'll see on these Isles. Even in 2020 when the wind and rain blew an absolute hooley over the weekend Aaron Rai and Tommy Fleetwood still managed 11 under par to fight it out in the playoff.
In 2019, 19 players finished 17 under par or better. Last year, 34 players made double figures under par. Unless the weather plays a part this week scores will head towards the 20 under mark to compete.
A light wind looks a constant throughout the four days, but nothing that will overly influence the scoring. Temperatures look fair enough also so I expect this to be a shootout with approach play and putting being key to getting into contention.
Collin Morikawa at 30/1
I was kicking myself after a couple of days at the US Open that I had let the chance to back Collin Morikawa around the 28/1 mark in a major pass me by. Considering he shot seven over par in round three there it was a remarkable feat to finish in 5th spot, just four shots off the winner Matt Fitzpatrick.
He recovered from 56th on approach in round three to first in the same department the following day. Maybe that could be the story to continue given that he has vocally gave concern to his shot shape changing from a fade to a draw without reason. However, you don't fake a top five finish at the US Open and that matched his 5th place spot at Augusta earlier in the year.
He won on the DPWT last November when capturing the DP World Tour Championship in glorious fashion with a back nine charge. Slower greens should help a slightly inconsistent putter and his long game remains in more than good enough shape to contend here over four days.
1.5pts each-way C.Morikawa at 30/1 (1/5 6)
Corey Conners at 50/1
With approach play key throughout an easy scoring contest such as this Corey Conners must be closely watched. The Canadian still has just the one win on the PGA Tour in Canada back in 2019 but has flirted with majors in recent years.
The putter has always been an issue and was so in Brookline where his long game was excellent for a couple of days with the putter being the sole reason he wasn't around for the weekend. However, the flat stick has been more consistent this year and he is comfortably on course for his best season with the putter to date.
He tied for 15th at St George's last year in just his second Open appearance. He could often do with the putter being more inconsistent and having really bad weeks mixed in with excellent weeks.
Those good weeks are few and far between though and instead he remains better than average, but somewhat not good enough to get over the line. 6th in the Canadian Open was a sign of what can happen when he has a good week on the greens ranking 13th in that category for the week.
I think the Renaissance will suit and after an opening round of 76 last year he beat that total by 11 shots shooting 65 in round two to narrowly miss the cut. Worth chancing at 50/1 he shoots another of couple of 65s this week to get into the mix.
Keegan Bradley at 50/1
Keegan Bradley has put together some extremely impressive performances this year and although he's not one I'd automatically think of winning on Links he is certainly worth the watch over the next couple of weeks. He led SG approach at the US Open a few weeks ago and was 9th in the same department the following week at the Travelers.
The one problem being this year has been when he has hit those heights with his long game, the putter hasn't quite matched up. However, he led the field on the greens at the Wells Fargo in May and has shown on numerous occasions this year that his putting has improved.
This is his best year on the greens since circa 2014 and a win certainly looks on the cards. Three top 20s in the Open certainly show he is capable on this terrain and favourable conditions this week should suit the American. Don't be surprised should he figure this week or next given the level of golf he has producing this year.
Gary Woodland at 80/1
Gary Woodland went close a handful of times earlier in the season on the PGA Tour and looks worthy of a second glance around the 80/1 mark. 5th at the Honda, 5th at Bayhill, 8th in Texas and then 10th in last month's US Open is a sign of just how well his game has held up in strong fields this year.
His short game has often been the undoing of him in contention but slower greens here could help. He doesn't have a sparkling record on links but does boast seven made cuts from nine at Open Championships.
His long game was in fine shape at Brookline ranking 1st off the tee and 6th tee to green for the week. With conditions set to be fair here and being one of those who didn't make the trip to Adare Manor at the start of the week, he could gain an advantage fitness wise and be one of the first out of the blocks. Wins in stronger fields are an advantage on paper also and Woodland has that. I'd have thought 50/1 would have been a better mark given his effort at the US Open.
Marc Leishman at 80/1
I wouldn't be surprised to see Adrian Meronk go well for the second week on the trot and he is certainly of interest at 66/1. He could prove himself to be a major European force in the coming years and the Ryder Cup will no doubt be another target for the Polish sensation.
Former winner here Aaron Rai is another who interests around the 80/1 mark. He won here in the poor conditions a few years ago and has shown himself capable on the pgatour also. He played nicely last week in Ireland and could fancy going well here once again.
The 80/1 mark looks more tempting though for Marc Leishman who only two starts ago finished in 14th spot in the US Open. I expected another decent effort at the Travelers but his approach play let him down a bag full and his somewhat up and down form in that department explains some rollercoaster results of late.
Three top fives in Open Championships which included a playoff defeat at next weeks venue St Andrew's shows us his affiliation with links golf. The Aussie just can't seem to put all parts of his game together for one week. He got together with his coach prior to the US Open and we saw the result of that work at Brookline.
A return to the links should provide fair motivation and he will have targeted these two events all year. He has gained a fair bit of distance off the tee in 2022 and could see the dividends pay at two tracks the next few weeks that can yield plenty of birdies with a lot of room off the tee.
Min Woo Lee at 50/1
Min Woo Lee won this in spectacular fashion last year beating Detry and Fitzpatrick in a playoff and possibly looks overpriced to repeat the feat. The Australian impressed in high winds when winning the Vic Open back in 2020 and then showed his talent for similar conditions when winning this event last year.
14th at the Masters and 27th in the US Open tells us that Lee is blossoming somewhat and his low ball flight is perfect for examinations such as this. He could be a lively runner next week also, but I'm prepared to take the chance that we see the best of him here in Scotland once again.
Joakim Lagergren at 400/1
Finally I'll say a prayer whilst placing a few quid on Joakim Lagergren. The Swede has made his last four cuts on the spin including a top five finish at the European Open. He finished 11th on approach last week and has been playing decent stuff in that department for a few weeks now. His only win on the tour came on the coast at the Sicilian Open back in 2018.
Throw in the fact he has another four top five finishes at the Dunhill Links and we clearly have someone who loves these types of test. Granted, a win in this field is almost certainly beyond him, but he could certainly contend on an easier layout throughout the week and certainly looks worth chancing at the 500/1 mark.