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The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Preview
Our golf writer takes a look at the betting for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which gets underway this coming Thursday.
In recent years, this trip into the myriad wonders of links golf has generally had a celebratory tone following Ryder Cup success. This year’s ignominious defeat in Minnesota will lend a more sombre atmosphere to proceedings. To be fair, six of the defeated Ryder Cup members will be making their trip to the links this year, with Darren Clarke also braving any possible backlash. Despite only having been an institution on the European tour since 2001, the prize money on offer has quickly seen this event become one of the most formidable events on tour.
11 of the world’s top fifty players will be in attendance this week, with European darling Thomas Pieters and 2010 Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen considered the bookies favourites. This tournament will also give the chance to those who were overlooked for Ryder Cup consideration to make an emphatic point. Shane Lowry and Alex Noren are two such players, while the typical links setup will offer chances to those adept in these conditions: Stephen Gallagher and Paul Lawrie.
The tournament set-up will see the familiar professional and amateur set-up spread out over various courses over the first three days. Carnoustie - famous for its intimidating pot bunkers and Kingsbarnes - the course that Branden Grace memorable recorded a 60 en route to victory in 2012 will play co-host to St Andrews until the last round swings unto the Old Course for the final and decisive round. Links golf always has the ability to throw up a surprise or two and this weekend should be no exception.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship | Thursday 6 October - Sunday 9 October | Old Course at St Andrews
2015: Thorbjorn Olesen (-18) | 2014: Oliver Wilson (-17) | 2013: David Howell (-23) *playoff | 2012: Branden Grace (-22) | 2011: Michael Hoey (-21)
Thomas Pieters (14/1), Louis Oosthuizen (14/1), Bernd Wiesberger (16/1), Branden Grace (16/1), Martin Kaymer (20/1)
Shane Lowry (30/1 Win & 13/2 Place)
The burly Irishman had the proverbial tale of two halves this year. Three-time winner on the European tour, Lowry went from what appeared a near certainty for Ryder Cup selection in June to a fairly early casualty in that race. Lowry has been largely inactive since missing out. My basis for choosing the Irishman is that he may feel invigorated in the aftermath of an unsuccessful Ryder Cup campaign that he was omitted from. History tells us that making birdies is more important than finding the fairway in this tournament. Three of the last five winners have been in the top thirty for driving distance and Lowry smashes the ball a mile. Plus few will forget him at his sensational best winning the Bridgestone Invitational and nearly capturing the U.S Open.
Graeme McDowell (60/1 Win & 13/1 Place)
This is yet another choice not truly influenced by form. The two-time major winner had a largely forgetful year and never deserved a place in Hazeltine. McDowell, a ten-time winner on tour, did finish in a tie for tenth in the Scottish Open. And one just needs to look at his previous experience in Links golf to realize that he is a steal at 60/1 to win. He won the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2010 as well as the Scottish Open in 2008. He has also won on the links inspired Valderrama whilst finishing 3rd in this very championship in 2011. Additionally, his victory at the OHL Classic in November illustrates that he hasn’t completely lost that winning mentality.
Oliver Fisher (225/1 Win & 45/1 Place)
I always enjoy throwing a curiosity one in there, just to keep things interesting. At 45/1 to place, I have to say that the perennially underachieving Oliver Fisher seems a decent enough bet to me. But the Englishman is actually in a decent little patch of form. He has finished in the top 30 in three of his last four starts, including two tie 28 finishes at the Porsche European Open and the Nordea Masters. Throw in his tie for 12th at the Omega Masters, and perhaps the odds look a little huge here. Added to that is the fact that Fisher had an impressive 4th place finish at the Scottish Match-play, highlighting his propensity for some links escapades.
The Man to Beat
Alex Noren (20/1 Win & 44/10 Place)
Swede Alex Noren is my pick from the upper crust of the participants this week. I feel that the Swede may well have felt aggrieved to miss out on selection for the Ryder Cup, while Clarke’s crony Lee Westwood putted with the efficiency expected from someone totally out of form. Noren has no problems playing in breezy conditions and is the current Scottish Open champion. Noren is currently eighth in the Race to Dubai and will be confident of solidifying his chances of a concerted push for European glory this year.