Diane Knox Balas' Scottish Open best bets: Can our expert analyst follow recent 10/1, 30/1 and 55/1 winners?
Well, what a weekend that was…. We had another outright winner! I’m so happy for J.T. Poston, who claimed his second PGA Tour victory at the John Deere Classic — going wire-to-wire and finishing with a three-stroke win.
I’m even happier for all of you who read my preview and picked him at +5500! That’s three outright winners in the last four events, and I am elated! Thank you for taking my advice and allowing me to give you my preview and picks here on Pickswise each week. Now let’s continue this fun streak this week in my home open and also in the Barbasol Championship!
I’ve been looking forward to this event for a long, long time. It’s the Genesis Scottish Open, a tournament that has always meant a lot to me. I’ve attended the Scottish Open countless times and feel very sad to not be in the East of Scotland this week. The Scottish fans always show up in droves and provide phenomenal support out on the links, and this week will be no different. Plus, watching in the States means we get “coffee golf” in the mornings for the next two weeks!
This event marks the first of the alliance between the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, meaning what was formerly a European Tour event will now have elevated status, a stacked field, a bigger prize pot and FedExCup points. And because of all that, we’ll see 14 of the OWGR Top 15 teeing it up at the Renaissance Club on Thursday. There’s a great story behind the course, and I’ll go into that soon.
In 2021, Min Woo Lee, Thomas Detry and Matthew Fitzpatrick all got to -17 to force a playoff — with Lee taking the trophy. Aaron Rai won in 2020, but it’s worth noting that due to Covid-19 the tournament was played in October that year. Also, in 2019 at the Renaissance Club, Bernd Wiesberger won. He will not be teeing it up this time around, as all the LIV Tour golfers are banned from participating in this co-sanctioned PGA Tour event. No surprise there!
We’re going to see an interesting mix of the world’s best from the PGA Tour combined with players from the DP World Tour. There will be a lot of links experience, there will be some guys who aren’t used to playing on this type of course and a few using this week as a chance to tune-up ahead of the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews next week. There are also final Open Championship qualifying spots up for grabs for those who are looking for some extra motivation to perform.
Renaissance Club: What you need to know
It’s off to East Lothian for the Scottish Open. The Renaissance Club is a par 71, measuring 7,293 yards but the course will play a lot differently than that official number with the Scottish weather. This is the fourth consecutive year the Renaissance Club has hosted the Scottish Open. Situated right beside the iconic Muirfield, the course is relatively new and the 1000-acre estate was purchased by a consortium of American businessmen in 2005. Jacksonville native Jerry Sarvardi led the purchase and recruited famed designer Tom Doak to get to work on this brand new 18-hole links course. The only issue was the land didn’t back up onto the coast, which is the trademark of links golf. Therefore Sarvardi had to barter for a coveted strip of land to add to the course, which he didn’t get until 2011. Then, three new holes were built within the sand dunes on the coastline, completing the golf vision that the American group longed to create.
If you have played some of Scotland’s famed links courses, you may see a slight departure from that traditional, rustic style at the Renaissance Club. The rough is possibly the biggest difference and is more penalizing off the fairways than the whispy fescue that we see at some of the other links venues. It’s pretty thick and puts more of a premium on total driving off the tee, but the fairways are wide. Following renovations in preparation for this year, some additional bunkers and fairway mounds have been added. Those dreaded pot bunkers are to be avoided at all costs!
Length off the tee could be an advantage this week, with some long par 4s, four reachable par 5s and a drivable par 4 — which is always fun to watch.
Looking at the greens, they are large and will run slow — as we would expect from a Scottish links course. The greens are really undulated with some large run-off areas. Guys will have to pick their spots carefully or make the most of those shaved-down areas to play the famous Scottish bump-and-run shot.
Of course, as always with seaside golf the wind can really pick up. It looks to be gusting 25 mph on Sunday, but if I know Scottish weather I’d say that number is on the conservative side! There is some rain forecast pre-tournament, too, which would soften things up.
Knox’s Knockout Scottish Open picks
Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200) BetMGM
Odds provided by BetMGM Sportsbook
I said to myself, ‘if I can get Fitzy at more than 20/1, I’ll take him.’ This year’s U.S. Open champion cannot be overlooked at these odds. Plus, he finished tied for the lead here last year and lost in a playoff to Lee. He’s in the form of his life, grew up in England, loves playing links golf and knows the course really well. I’m all in!
Cameron Smith (+2800) FanDuel
Odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook
When looking at players who are 1) playing fantastic golf and 2) able to perform in the conditions, I’m picking an Aussie. Smith grew up playing in the wind and, in the weirdly Scottish-like conditions of the Players Championship earlier this year, he took the title. He also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions. I know Hawaii is the furthest removed from Scotland you can get, but the wind always plays such a factor there. Cam’s off-the-tee stats aren’t actually all that great, but a wicked short game and excellent putting seem to be making up for any shortfalls. I love Smith this week — and love these odds.
Ryan Fox (+5000) Bet365
Odds provided by Bet365 Sportsbook
When diving into players who compete on the DP World Tour, Ryan Fox will no doubt be a popular choice this week in Scotland. Looking at this stats, he’s first in birdies per round this season, second in scoring average, third in approach and third in putts-per-GIR. He has also posted three top-3s in his last four events, including two runner-up finishes — one of which was last week at the Irish Open. Also he’s from New Zealand, so I’m weighting the “experience in the wind” factor heavily here.
Keith Mitchell (+9000) DraftKings
Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Something is telling me to pick Mitchell this week, and I can’t ignore it. He has been playing well, coming off a T6 at the Travelers and a T7 at the RBC Canadian Open. He is 5th off-the-tee this season and has gained more than four strokes in his last four events. Finally, his putter is hot right now — gaining more than three and a half strokes in his last four events. This is a really encouraging trend from Mitchell, so I like him to do well this week.
Scottish Open prop bets
Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.
Lucas Herbert top-10 finish (+600)
An Australian who loves playing windy, links golf, Herbert has played well at the Renaissance Club the last few years — finishing T4 last year and in 2020. His debut win on the PGA Tour came this year in Bermuda; another windy venue! Also, we saw him finish T13 at the PGA Championship back in May. Herbert can really putt and sits at 2nd for the season in strokes gained putting.
Callum Tarren top-20 finish (+850)
There’s no way I’m leaving Tarren off my card after my top-20 bet for him at last week’s John Deere Classic paid out, finishing T6. The Englishman hits the ball a mile, his approach play is a highlight of his recent play and he sits within the top 10 in putting from 15-25 feet. He is making that long trip from Illinois to Scotland but back to a familiar style of course and feeling confident, so I like him to play well again this week.
Yes to a playoff (+300)
This is the fourth time the Scottish Open has been held at the Renaissance Club, and the tournament has ended in a playoff every single time. If you think the same will happen again this year, you can get odds of 3/1. With the unpredictable weather forecast for Sunday, I’m taking it!
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