This week’s golfing action sees the PGA Tour officially begin its new season in California whilst the European Tour hosts the ever popular Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Dunhill Links is a unique blend of professional and celebrity player, and is played over three famed courses St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. The field alternates between the three courses before finishing at St Andrews on the final day.
Ty Hatton is the returning champion and he is looking to become the first man to defend the trophy and keep up a very good British record which has seen 10 Brit winners in the 16 years of the competition’s staging.
The leading light in Scotland this week is Rory McIlroy, who is looking to end his season in some style and due to the make up of the Pro-Am field – he will line-up with his father Gerry, who is also pleased to see his son back in form.
“He rang me a couple of days ago and said ‘it’s good to see you’ve got your game in shape for me’, so I’m looking forward to it,” said McIlroy, who is found of the Dunhill competition having finished runner-up three times.
“We always have a great time up there. The weather’s not supposed to be too bad, I don’t think, so I’m really looking forward to going up there and giving it another shot and trying to win a tournament this year.
“It’s always a very special experience and I’ve had times I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to get back and to play over those three world-class courses I really respect.”
— Alfred Dunhill Links (@dunhilllinks) October 3, 2017
As well as some of the world’s top golfers on show, a host of celebrities will be on show, the likes of Sir Anthony McCoy, Shane Warne, Jamie Redknapp, Wladimir Klitschko, Ronan Keating, Sir Ian Botham, Kevin Pieterson and Sir Steve Redgrave in the field.
Over the pond in California in the Napa Valley and the 2017/18 PGA Tour season gets underway with the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort & Spa.
A relatively new tournament was founded ten-years ago and has only been played at Silverado since 2015 and the field is headed by Phil Mickelson. The likes of Webb Simpson, Tony Finau and Adam Hodwin – all who made the Tour Championship final, will also feature.
The defending champion is Brendan Steele, and he is looking to be the first person to win this competition on more than one occasion.
Waiting for tournament week like… pic.twitter.com/yFVEUwvtP8
— Safeway Open (@SafewayOpen) October 1, 2017
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
I had a great time at the British Masters last week, and it was great to see the huge crowds in my native North East turning up and we saw some wonderful golf too.
Rory McIlroy was in great form and as he loves the Links’ so much – I think he will be hard to beat this week, and playing with his dad – that will surely relax him a bit too.
Over in America, and it looks a bit of a tough call but you would have to think Webb Simpson might go close, solid form and someone who will be looking for a Ryder Cup place so might want to start the new season in style.
The Bookie says…
We caught up with BetVictor’s Jack Milner – an expert in the golfing markets
Rory McIlroy heads the market for the Alfred Dunhill Links, which takes place at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and ‘The Old Lady’ with Sunday’s final round at St Andrews a terrific spectacle north of the border. McIlroy has yet to win the event but has twice been a runner-up and played brilliantly on his return to the European Tour in last week’s British Masters.
He is the most likely winner however, is opposable at 6/1 with BetVictor and preference lies instead with plenty of those at much bigger prices. Oliver Wilson caused a shock at around 300/1 and both Michael Hoey and Branden Grace won at three-figure prices earlier in the decade.
I hope to see Callum Shinkwin do likewise at 100/1 with BetVictor and expect him to better his rice this week. Shinkwin traded at the basement price in-running when beaten by Rafa Cabrera-Bello in the Scottish Open earlier in the season and, having held his form well thereafter, should relish this week’s test of links golf.
I similarly like George Coetzee who is improving with every effort since returning from losing 15kg and has played better than his recent results of 3-7-15. The South Africa native made errors at the 72nd hole at first The KLM Open and The Portugal Masters and should have plenty of opportunities at this week’s likely birdie-fest. Both Coetzee and Eddie Pepperell traded short entering the final round of The Portugal Masters and really should have gone closer than their T3 finishes. Eddie Pep disappointed last week on the greens at Close House but had previously posted three back-to-back T5 finishes or better and remains a fair price at 66s to each way punters.
Ryan Fox is another that played well over the summer and another who is an avid fan of links golf. During the summer he thrived in conditions, with the French, Irish and Scottish Opens proving a terrific test for The Claret Jug and The Aussie missing the cut in Southport. Prior to that he finished three consecutive top-ten finishes in links conditions and must go well once more.
George Coetzee 40/1
Eddie Pepperell 50/1
Ryan Fox 66/1
Callum Shinkwin 100/1
Over in America and Kevin Na boasts a terrific record at The Safeway Open and can justify each-way support at 28/1 with BetVictor. The American isn’t without his quirks but has a terrific record in Scottsdale; finishing T7 last year and an unlucky runner-up the year prior. He has a good record at this time of year and is a big price in a relatively weak field.
I can’t believe the pair of Patrick Rodgers and Bryson Dechambeau are as big as 80/1 with one winning a maiden title last season, when Dechambeau pipped Rodgers to the John Deere Classic. Both are well-established on tour and can out-perform their respective odds.
Kevin Na 28/1
Bryson Dechambeau 80/1
Patrick Rodgers 80/1