Just a week out from the Open Championship, the best in the world will have the chance to hone their links skills at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.
2021/2022 DP World Tour/US PGA Tour
Genesis Scottish Open
The Renaissance Open, Dirleton, North Berwick, Scotland
DP World Tour and PGA Tour front up to LIV Golf
It is clear that the US PGA Tour and DP World Tour are taking measures to combat the existential threat that is LIV Golf. These newly co-sanctioned events seem to hint at a necessary solidarity in these nebulous times.
This week’s Barbasol Championship and next week’s Barracuda Championship will also be co-sanctioned events. Is it too little, too late? It’s probably been fortunate for both tours that Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have been the initial champions of LIV Golf.
No offence to both of those players (Schwartzel is a Masters champ and Grace was once a perennial Major contender). But imagine DJ or DeChambeau had won both those events. That added sex appeal could have done real damage to the traditional tours.
In any event, this week’s action will see 14 of the world’s top 15 players in action. Should be a fabulous precursor to next week’s Open Championship.
The Scottish Open – a low down
This tournament dates all the way back to 1935. Though the first two editions were hosted in 1935 and 1936, the 3rd didn’t occur until 1972. It then disappeared in 1974 but it has been an ever-present on the DP World Tour since 1986.
This event was granted illustrious Rolex Series status in 2017. It has been elevated further this year by becoming a co-sanctioned event with the US PGA Tour.
That means that the top US PGA Tour players are not only using this as preparation for St Andrews next week: there are FedEx Cup points at stake. This will be the 4th consecutive Scottish Open hosted at the Renaissance Club.
The Renaissance Club
This course was opened as recently as 2008 and is situated close to iconic Open Championship venue Muirfield. Changes were made just five years after its opening, with the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers facilitating a land swap that resulted in three new holes.
It has resulted in some dramatic holes that connect to the coastline and showcase the majestic Firth of Forth. The Renaissance Club was a par 70 but changes have been made this year.
The 7th hole played as a 561-yard par 5 last year. This year it will play as a 505-yard par 4. This is a true coastal links that will be highly contingent on weather conditions. Look for players with strong links form and the ability to control their iron trajectories.
Stars aplenty in Scotland this week
As I noted earlier, this is an absolutely star-studded affair. Rory is the one notable absentee aside from some of the LIV Golf crew. Two-time Irish Open champion Jon Rahm is a sensible favourite in these conditions.
World Number One Scottie Scheffler is in astounding form while current Open champ Collin Morikawa has already proven his links abilities. It will also be interesting to see the reception given to reigning Open champ Matthew Fitzpatrick.
This will be his first appearance since that remarkable victory at the Country Club.
2021: Min Woo Lee (18) *playoff
2020: Aaron Rai (-11) *playoff
2019: Bernd Wiesberger (-22) *playoff
2018: Brandon Stone (-20)
2017: Rafa Cabrera Bello (-13) *playoff
2016: Alex Noren (-14)
To Win Outright:
Jon Rahm 12/1 | Scottie Scheffler 12/1 | Justin Thomas 14/1 | Matthew Fitzpatrick 18/1 | Xander Schauffele 20/1
Jordan Spieth- To Win 30/1 | To Place 13/2
Jordan Spieth is just a links specialist who should be primed for a strong result. Sure, he missed the cut last time out at the Travellers. But Spieth just loves links golf. The 2017 Open Championship winner also picked up a runner-up finish at last year’s Open. He is a master with his irons and is generally one of the world’s best putters (especially on these large, contoured greens). He has had his struggles with the short-blade of late. But he seems to finally be turning that around. He won at this year’s RBC Heritage and finished runner-up at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Lucas Herbert- To Win 70/1 | To Place 15/1
This one is purely based on course form and links ability. 26-year-old Aussie Lucas Herbert finished just outside the playoff places last year and brings that good course form to the table. He also finished 9th in last week’s Irish Open and could be a nice dark horse pick this week. He putted well on the slow greens at Mount Juliet and he could face similar conditions this week.
The Man to beat- Collin Morikawa- To Win 28/1 | To Place 6/1
This is just a no-brainer at this price. Morikawa hasn’t been in the greatest form of late. But he is quite simply the best iron player in the world when he is on (Zalatoris aside). He managed a T5 at the US Open despite completely capitulating in the 3rd round (he shot 7-over despite being the 36-hole leader). Morikawa is also clearly a links specialist after claiming last year’s Open Championship. He currently ranks 3rd in the field for SG: Total at courses with moderate to extremely windy conditions (how is that for a niche stat). His value at 28/1 is too good to ignore.