The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship may not quite raise the excitement levels to Ryder Cup proportions, but this Pro-Am event is one of the most looked forward to events of the calendar for professionals, amateurs and spectators alike.
The format is different from a regular European Tour Event, with the cut being made after 3 rounds. That’s because the first 3 rounds take place over 3 different courses in the Old Course at Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, with a third of the field playing at each course on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The top-60 and ties then return to St Andrews on the Sunday to battle it out for a big prize fund.
Many of Europe’s Ryder Cup Team are in attendance, but it’s worth noting that the best finish of any of the 2012 Ryder Cup Team that returned from America was 30th, and that’s enough evidence for me to want to leave the likes of Pieters, Cabrero-Bello, Kaymer and Willett out of the staking plan this week.
Much more interesting at the head of the market are Alex Noren and Berndt Wiesberger, who have both been in decent form of late on the European Tour, and have previous form here. Noren was third here in 2012, and has recent form figures are 2/1/34. Meanwhile, Wiesberger’s recent form is 2/5, which ties in nicely with decent tournament form of 12/14/4.
Next up is Tommy Fleetwood, a player who has looked close to returning to his best with recent form of 10/7/13, and one who admits this is one of his favourite tournaments, hardly surprising when he’s posted three top-5 finishes here in the last 5 seasons.
Meanwhile, one player who may be highly motivated at missing the 2016 Ryder Cup is Graeme McDowell who, at his current world-ranking of 81, also knows he could do with a win to get him back into the world’s top-50, and get him automatic qualification to all the majors next season. He’s also posted a second and third here in the past, and his recent poor form is no worry for a player who often wins after a string of missed cuts, though he was fifth 4-starts back.
I’m also making room for an outsider this week in Chris Paisley, whose one appearance in the event in 2013 yielded a 12th placed finish. His third in Italy 2 starts ago also earned him his European Tour Card for next season, and the fact that he can play with more freedom may just see him feature prominently once more.
Alex Noren 1 Point Each-Way @ 22/1 (Sporting Bet) ¼ odds 6 places
Berndt Wiesberger 1 Point Each-Way @ 20/1 (Betfred, Betfair) ¼ odds 5 places
Tommy Fleetwood 1 Point Each-Way @ 30/1 (Various Bookies) ¼ odds 5 places
Graeme McDowell 1 Point Each-Way @ 66/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 5 places
Chris Paisley 1 Point Each-Way @ 200/1 (Betfred, Stan James) ¼ odds 5 places