European Tour: Rolex Series Scottish Open Preview

Golfer admires his shot

We preview the European Tour's Rolex Series Scottish Open set to take place at East Lothian between 12 and 15 July.

The latest event in this kaleidoscope of links golf sees the European Tour turning its attention to the Scottish Links this week.  A fair few American players are in attendance ahead of next week’s trip to Carnoustie.  Russell Knox will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in Rolex Series events after his victory in Ireland last week.  

The first two editions of the Scottish Open came in 1935 and 1936, though it inexplicably disappeared till 1972.  It once again went into hiatus in 1974 and has remained a fixture on the tour since 1986.  The event was staged at the parkland style Loch Lomond course between 1996 and 2010, though the organizers wisely decided to change this to a links-style rotational system in preparation for the Open.  

The European Tour
Rolex Series
The Scottish Open
Championship Course, Gullane Golf Course, Gullane, East Lothian
12 - 15 July 2018

Gullane Golf Club is located on the shores of Firth of Forth and was established in 1882, though the game has been enjoyed on the Gullane Links for 350 years.  The club has three courses and the Championship Course this week will be an amalgamation of course one and course two.  The first 16 holes will be on course one while the 17th and 18th will be from course two.  Stephen Gallagher said in an interview that this isn’t the toughest examination of links golf and it really is contingent on what the weather does this week.

Defending champion Rafa Cabrera Bello has been in excellent form this season while Russell Knox’s heroics last week had shades of Tiger in its drama.  Justin Rose heads the markets while the 2015 champion at this very course- Ricky Fowler- will clearly command much of the fanfare this week.  Elsewhere former Open Champion Phil Mickelson is limbering up here while Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed add some gloss to proceedings.

Past Winners
2017: Rafa Cabrera Bello (-13)*playoff
2016: Alex Noren (-14)
2015: Ricky Fowler (-12)
2014: Justin Rose (-16)
2013: Phil Mickelson (-17)*playoff

To Win Outright:
Justin Rose (9/1), Ricky Fowler (10/1), Tyrell Hatton (16/1), Patrick Reed (18/1), Matt Kuchar (20/1)

Value Bets

Jorge Campillo- To Win (55/1), To Place (12/1)
55/1 looks a ludicrous price for a player exhibiting the form that Campillo has.  His remarkable 2018 calendar has seen him net six finishes of fifth or better.  That explains why he currently sits at 10th in the Race to Dubai standings.  Campillo finished in third place in Ireland last week, adding further impetus to his reputation as a links player.  Campillo finished in 8th place at this event in 2016 while he managed a respectable 26th last year.  Campillo has been in outstanding form this year and represents great value following that performance at Ballyfin.

Charley Hoffman- To Win (60/1), To Place (13/1)
There is always a strong American contingent in this event ahead of the Open Championship, with the PGA men looking to consolidate some links form ahead of the second Major of the year.  Hoffman looks like tremendous value in the American quadrant, despite always being a mercurial contender at best.  Hoffman always tends to save his best golf for the big occasion, as evidenced by that tie for 12th at the Masters.  He has had two consecutive top 20 finishes at the US Open and Travellers Championship and has decent links form to boot.  He has competed in seven consecutive Open Championships and finished 20th at Birkdale last year.

Mikko Ilonen- To Win (150/1), To Place (33/1)
The experienced Finn Ilonen represents my pick for an outside contender this week.  The Finn finished third for greens hit last week en route to an eventual 19th place finish.  Ilonen’s fondness for links golf started at a young age, with victory at the 1999 West of Ireland Amateur followed by a victory at the Amateur Championship at Royal Liverpool.  Since turning professional he managed a 9th at Lytham and a 16th at Hoylake.  He also had a 2nd at the links style Qatar Masters course.  He has top 20 finishes in this event at Castle Stuart and Royal Aberdeen.

The Man to Beat- Russell Knox- To Win (22/1), To Place (48/10)
Of all the players towards the upper reaches of the betting, last week’s winner Russell Knox looks like the best value at 22/1.  Last week’s winner in Ireland made a few ridiculous putts in a charge that took Ryan Fox by surprise.  Knox has course pedigree, finishing 10th here in 2015.  He also has shown the capacity to follow up a victory.  After claiming the 2015 WGC HSBC Championship in China he managed a runner-up finish at the OHL Classic in Mexico a week later.  He also finished runner-up to Noren a few weeks ago in France and is clearly the form man going into this event. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for

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