Author: Paul Atkin
Published: 11:02 24/09/2013
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is the next stop on the European Tour. This Pro-Am format brings together assorted celebrities with some of the worlds best golfers, and is played over the renowned links courses of St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
Depending on weather conditions, St Andrews offers the best chance of a low score, whilst Carnoustie; the longest of the three courses is definitely the toughest, especially when the wind blows. Kingsbarns is a very exposed track, but without any significant wind can still provide plenty of birdie chances for players of this quality. Cool, showery conditions with light winds are forecast for the four days, so course bias should not really be a factor this year.
The field includes a really strong South African contingent, but lacks any of our home grown stars who have en masse declined the transatlantic trip over the pond. Sadly the lure of a half million pound first prize, and Ryder Cup points is not sufficient to tempt them over to support one of the most lucrative events on the European Tour.
Onto punting matters. The likes of Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen are the star names this week, but I do not fancy any of these Major winners. Els has been badly out of form since his win in the BMW Open in June, Schwartzel only beat one home in the Tour Championship, whilst Oosthuizen has been sidelined for a couple of months with neck and back injuries. It is an extremely open betting heat this year, but hopefully we can pinpoint some more value bets to continue our good run and tipping fourth placed Webb Simpson E/W last week at 40/1.
My main fancy is Simon Dyson who has a cracking record at this event, winning in 2009; and posting three other top 10 finishes. He has been in really consistent form for the last couple of months, and I will ignore his tied 47th place finish in Turin last week, as his putting was awful(128 putts over the four rounds!). He loves links golf, and on more familiar greens I expect a bold show.
My second fancy is Tommy Fleetwood, who broke his maiden tag with a pulsating play off win at Gleneagles. The exciting youngster is another with a good links pedigree, with a really solid Amateur links record, backed up by his tied 5th place finish here in 2011. He is still raw, but is a player with enormous potential and I can see him contending again this week.
Another player I am risking a few quid on this week is the enigmatic Danny Willett, who has a great record at this event, with two top 5 finishes in the last 3 years. He can be inconsistent, but certainly has the ability to contend at this level. He also finished a highly respectful tied 15th at Muirfield this year to give further evidence of his links pedigree.
Simon Dyson 33-1 E/W 6 places Paddy Power
Tommy Fleetwood 50/1 E/W 6 places Coral
Danny Willett 55/1 E/W 6 places Sportingbet