Teeing Off: The Coral Golf Blog
The focus switches back to the European Tour following the climax of the FedEx Cup in America. A strong field has assembled in Scotland for the pro-am format. Golfers and celebrities will compete at classic links courses, St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, before the final round at the home of golf on the Old Course. Players with a proven ability for links golf who can handle windy conditions are the ones to support this weekend.
Simon Dyson certainly fits the bill as a winner of this event. The Englishman landed the title here in 2009 and has a cluster of top tens at the tournament. Dyson has admitted this is his favourite week of the season and the results would certainly back this up. In addition to his victory, the 35-year-old was tied ninth two years ago, joint fifth in 2010 and inside the top eight in 2006.
There have been encouraging signs in recent weeks that Dyson is approaching his best form again after struggling over the last couple of seasons. The links specialist went close at the KLM Open earlier this month when he finished in a tie for third place. Greens in regulation is a key requirement at this tournament and Dyson was second in this ranking in Italy last week. This bodes well for his challenge in Scotland and Dyson could clinch his second Alfred Dunhill Links title at 28/1 each way.
Stephen Gallacher is another former champion here and the Scot looks set to contend this weekend. While he could not be classified as a prolific winner, Gallacher can at least list this tournament as one of his two European Tour victories after triumphing in his homeland in 2004. He also managed a tie for fifth in the event 12 months ago. The fact his other success came this season suggests he is playing some of the best golf of his career.
His win at the Dubai Desert Classic was a superb performance and Gallacher will have Ryder Cup qualification at Gleneagles next year as a major goal. The Scot’s recent form is impressive with a tie for second at the Johnnie Walker Championship followed by a top ten in Switzerland. The 38-year-old will also be inspired to perform for his uncle Bernard Gallacher after his recent illness. Expect a bold title bid from the home favourite at 33/1 each way.
Tommy Fleetwood recently landed his first European Tour victory and the fact it was in Scotland has to give him a lift heading into the Dunhill Links. The Southport star produced a tremendous display to clinch his maiden win at Gleaneagles last month shooting 18-under-par. Low scoring is normally the order of the day at this tournament and it would be no surprise if he went close to a Scottish double.
The 22-year-old made an impact two years ago at this event, when he contended for the title before finishing in a tie for fifth, despite spending the season on the Challenge Tour. His first year on the European Tour was a struggle in 2012 but his efforts have been markedly improved this campaign. With the confidence of a recent title, Fleetwood could easily challenge for another Scottish success at 40/1.
Thorbjorn Olesen came mightily close to winning the tournament 12 months ago when he pushed Branden Grace all the way. The young Dane shot 20-under-par and could consider himself unlucky not to get his hands on the trophy. But it proved Olesen has all the tools to flourish in links golf. He also managed a top ten last season in the Open and his maiden title came in windy conditions at the Sicilian Open.
The 23-year-old started 2013 with real consistency and the high point came with a brilliant top-six finish on his Augusta debut at the Masters. But his form tailed off drastically after this and he has had a forgettable summer. There were hints of a return to form last month when he posted a top ten in Scotland at the Johnnie Walker Championship and this could provide the spark he needs. Olesen is one of the most talented Europeans around and will be desperate to rediscover his early season excellence. A return to one of his best performances last year could do the trick so Olesen is worth taking at 50/1 each way.
If you want to look further down the market at a big priced runner, Oliver Wilson could give you a decent run for your money. The Englishman has been primarily competing on the Challenge Tour this year and has finished inside the top five in two of his last three events. This is a player who featured in the 2008 Ryder Cup team and is slowly trying to work his way back to his prime after several years struggling for form and fitness.
Wilson has enjoyed success at the Dunhill Links with a tie for second in 2009 the highlight. The 33-year-old tweeted this week about how optimistic he was heading into the event and this confidence should encourage punters. Wilson starts off at Kingsbarns and the Mansfield golfer can take advantage of the easier course. It might be a stretch to expect him to win, with no professional titles to his name, so add Wilson at 9/1 for a top ten finish alongside 15o/1 in the outright betting.
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