Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play | Thursday 30 July - Sunday 02 August | Murcar Links Golf Club
The Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play will tee off this week at Murcar Links Golf Club and a brief look at the field has convinced me that there’s a bit of value to be found in Scotland. It’s not often that new tournaments are added to the golfing calendar and it’s even more rare that they draw fields like this and with a healthy prize pool this looks like it could turn into a popular event. Seeing as though it’s going to be played for at least the next three years and there are Race to Dubai points on offer I’m going ahead and looking for a few bets to keep the interest levels up.
The course features your typical links layout and the par 71 measures just over 7,600 yards. This seems short and considering that more than half of the holes should be played with the wind it could well suit the big hitters who can get it close to the green with their drivers. That being said, a number of bunkers can be found littering the fairways so avoiding those will be vital. The greens are often elevated and there are a few holes where the approaches will be blind so course experience could assist although I doubt anyone in this field has played here too often. As can be expected in this format, match play experience will be key and one mishit shot could be mean the difference between being eliminated and going through in the brutal knockout format. There are no shortage of talented links specialists participating though so expect some hotly contested matchups. It’s always good to see stalwarts of the game being paid their due so congratulations to Paul Lawrie. Will his patronage be rewarded with a victory in his tournament or will he be watching from the sidelines on Sunday?
To Win Outright
Marc Warren 18/1
Richie Ramsay 20/1
Chris Wood 20/1
James Morrison 20/1
Tyrrell Hatton 22/1
Tyrrell Hatton (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
Tyrrell Hatton made a name for himself on the Challenge Tour a few years ago and since qualifying for the European Tour he has posted a few good finishes. He completed the 2014 season having played some good golf and impressed early on in South Africa when he finished second in the Joburg Open. Later on in the year he showed that that Top 5 wouldn’t be his last as he went on and finished a respectable T4 in the Scottish Open. He’s been quiet for most of 2015 but caught our eye in France where his consistent style of play earned him a Top 15. It was last week that he really came into his own though and a solo third in the Omega European Masters was the result of some ultra consistent golf. His back nine on the second day was something else and he made a ton of birdies; I’m hoping he can do the same here this week. I’m backing Hatton each way.
Raphael Jacquelin (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
Raphael Jacquelin had been quiet up until last month where he suddenly seemed to find his feet again and he looked to be at his best when finishing T2 in the Scottish Open. Last week he proved that was no flash in the pan as he went on to finish seventh in the Omega European Masters and it was his driving that caught my eye there. He looked to be hitting a lot of fairways and shaping his drives around some of the shorter holes to give himself good chances with his approaches and if he does that on this course there’s no reason he won’t be in the mix after the first few days. A cool head can be the difference between winning and losing in this format and they don’t get much cooler than Jacquelin. Oh and if you didn’t realise, he seems to enjoy playing in Scotland. With that in mind I’m backing him each way this week.
Thomas Aiken (40/1 a win, 88/10 a place)
I may be getting a bit patriotic here but this week Thomas Aiken catches my eye and at this price I don’t think that he can be ignored. He’s hit a bit of a slump these past few months but is always one to keep an eye on when links golf is being played and over the course of his career he’s posted a few Top 10s in the Open Championship, a sure sign that on his day he can mix it up with the best on these challenging layouts. Although he hasn’t shot the lights out this season he’s been making the cut consistently and that ability to keep his head down and grind through the week will stand him in good stead here. I’m certain he’ll make it through the first few rounds and with a bit of luck he’ll be around come Sunday. Each way on Aiken is the bet for me.
Chris Wood (20/1 a win, 44/10 a place)
Chris Wood recently split from his coach of fourteen years and that came as a bit of a surprise to everyone as the break up came just when he seemed to be hitting his stride. He finished fourth in the BMW PGA Championship and followed that up with a win in France in the Lyoness Open against some decent competition. That victory in France was convincing and showed Wood has what it takes to grab a lead and hold onto it, a trait that will certainly assist him if he’s going to do well in this format. On his day he can hit his irons better than most and with these blind greens that could mean the difference between winning and losing. Wood has only won twice on the European Tour in his career, let’s hope he can make it three this week.