Alfred Dunhill Links Championship preview and betting card by Ashley Wilkes
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Golf Tips
Talor Gooch 33/1 1.5pt e/w 7 places – Betfair
Francesco Molinari 50/1 1pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365
Eddie Pepperell 50/1 1pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365
Thorbjorn Olesen 66/1 0.75pt e/w 8 places – Ladbrokes
Sean Crocker 200/1 0.25pt e/w 7 places – Skybet
Lucas Bjerregaard 225/1 0.25pt e/w 8 places – Bet 365
Congratulations to any Guido backers last week. He was absolutely nowhere near my shortlist, it’s fair to say I’m not on the Guido train so whenever he wins it’s a fairly sure bet that I won’t be on him! This week we’re back in the UK, at 3 different courses for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. 2 of the 3 courses are on the Open rota (Carnoustie and St Andrews) but they don’t play as difficult as they would for a major as the field is full of amateurs, the great and the good from the world of showbiz, sport and business. With this in mind, rounds can take a very long time and it’s really not my favourite tournament of the year to watch on TV. While they can set the course up easy, they can’t control the weather, and there are some tricky wind conditions forecast this week so I’m looking for good ball strikers who can play in the wind and have the patience to deal with 5+ hour rounds.
The top of the market has 3 stand-out players in Rory, Fitzpatrick and Lowry, I’m happy to take them on not because I don’t think one of them will win, but more because I couldn’t make a compelling case for one over the other two. All of my selections have been picked with how I think they will react if they’re going toe to toe with one of those 3 coming down the stretch, as it’s highly likely at least one of them will be in contention. Therefore, my first selection is pantomime villain himself Talor Gooch. Yes he’s only here for world ranking points but that’s as good a reason to win as any and he’s striking the ball really well, as seen in his 4th place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. It was clear that Lowry’s comments after his win there angered Gooch and he will be out for revenge as they meet again this week. He’s clearly one of the best 30 players in the world even if the OWGR doesn’t currently say that so to be 3 times the price of Lowry and Fitzpatrick seemed excessive to me.
Next up I have a pair at 50/1 who have been putting up some really good Strokes Gained Approach numbers recently. Francesco Molinari, has won at Carnoustie before and after losing his form over the last 2-3 years, has been showing some signs of recovery, if he’s anywhere near his best on a course he’s won at before he could get really close. Eddie Pepperell may not have the major pedigree of Francesco, but he’s probably been the most consistent iron player on the DP World Tour over the summer and he’s no stranger to Links golf. He’s also played with the biggest names in the final round of big tournaments, such as the 2019 Players Championship, so we know he can handle the spotlight.
Thorbjorn Olesen takes the crown as continuity candidate this week, I had one big fear for Olesen last week and that was if he could drive the ball straight enough, turns out he could, ranking 10th for Strokes Gained off the tee, couple that with 9th for Strokes Gained approach and you may be forgiven for wondering how he didn’t finish higher than 20th, but a rare poor week with the putter let him down. It’s been a good club to him recently, so if he can keep striking it well and his putting returns to his summer best he will be right in the mix. A former Ryder Cup player who will be adept at dealing with the spotlight should he get into contention, 66/1 seems more than fair.
The two longshots to round out the card include Sean Crocker who was 3rd in Strokes Gained approach last week, coupled with his win earlier in the year coming at the Hero Open which is also held in St Andrews on a Links Course, means he has enough current form to go with what should be a good course fit. No event-form to speak of probably goes someway to explaining his price but plenty of players have won this with very little tournament form and 200/1 for a player who won 5 minutes down the road only 9 weeks ago seems very generous. In addition to Crocker, we have Lucas Bjerregaard to round out the card this week. A previous winner of this in 2018 he has lost his way since, but there have been flashes this season that he could be finding something. Yes, it’s speculative, yes it may be clutching at straws, but it doesn’t take much for a 225/1 shot to look like a good bet.