The UK Swing continues on the DP World Tour this week when the action returns to Scotland for the Hero Open. After The Open was played at St Andrews a couple of weeks ago, we move down the road to Fairmont St Andrews, a seemingly permanent stop on the tour now.
Grant Forrest will have fond memories of this tournament as it was he who won here last year and he will be looking to keep hold of his crown. A number of strong players will be looking to snatch it off him though.
2021 – Grant Forrest
2020 – Sam Horsfield
We might be at St Andrews this week but we are not at the famous Old Course. Instead we are at the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews, a few miles away from the stage for The Open and the Dunhill Links Championship. One thing that is no different between the two tracks is they are both links courses so we are looking for players with a decent links record, although with a relatively quiet forecast this week we are after aggressive golfers. This course hosted the now defunct Scottish Championship in 2020 and this tournament last year so it has been used before.
The course itself is a par 72 which measures 7,230 yards so it isn’t terribly long, and as we’ve seen in recent weeks the links are fast and firm so it isn’t going to play anything like its full yardage. The fairways are quite generous here and the greens have been described as the best you’ll find in Scotland so this should be a week for aggressive sorts as long as they stay out of the bunkers. Keep the low scoring links specialists on side this week.
It has to be said that the field this week isn’t the best for one reason or another. Just two members of the top 100 in the world are teeing it up in Scotland this week in Ryan Fox and Oliver Bekker and even the latter is going to have negative attention given his LIV ties. One man who does tee it up who’ll be popular this week is the winner of the Cazoo Classic last week in Richie Ramsay. He is inside the top 20 in the Race to Dubai rankings, a place behind Hurly Long who also tees it up.
Former winner here Adrian Otaegui is also in the field but he too has previous ties with the LIV Tour. Two other notables in the field are Romain Langasque and the Qatar Masters winner Ewen Ferguson who will be playing on home soil this week. The likes of David Law, Jorge Campillo, James Morrison, Scott Jamieson, Connor Syme, Marc Warren and Victor Dubuisson add some nice flavour to a competitive if unspectacular field.
Ryan Fox is the highest ranked player in the field this week on both the world rankings and the Race to Dubai rankings and he is 11/1 to waltz off with the title. He has six top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts and also won in the UAE prior to that so he is certainly the form horse, although the two links weeks in Scotland he went T47-MC which is a bit of a concern, although he has shown previously that he can play links golf. He was T34 here last year after a poor first round. He might well win but he’s plenty short enough for my liking.
The winner from last week, Richie Ramsay, and the winner here in 2020, Adrian Otaegui, are 22/1 in the betting this week. Had Ramsay not have won last week I’d have liked him much more here but we saw the emotion coming out of him after winning at Hillside and that rollercoaster could leave him a little flat here. Otaegui won here in 2020 but didn’t really do much last year and his ties with the LIV Tour and negative press and impact of that is enough for me to swerve him.
The only other player who is shorter than 30/1 on the best prices this week is Romain Langasque, a player who could only return a disappointing T46 at Hillside last week. The Frenchman is 25/1 to win this week but he is taking to the course for the first time which has to be something of a negative and I’m far from convinced he is one for links golf. He does have three top 10 finishes in his last seven starts though so he appears to be hitting the ball well at least.
I’ll go with a couple of main bets this week with the first of those being the player who is on home soil here in David Law. The Scot caught my attention when Sky had him in their Sky Zone thing at The Open and he said the strength of his game is in his iron play. He duly made the cut at The Open with a couple of 69s mixed in for good measure so he should have got enough out of that week to be competitive here. I then looked into that and true to form he has been solid with his iron play all season with him only losing strokes to the field in two of the 15 events he has played this term. Law was fourth here last year and was in the top 10 in Ireland earlier this month so this tournament should have come at a good time for him to put up a positive spin.
Paul Waring used home comforts to his advantage for a very positive showing at the Cazoo Classic last week and now I wonder how close he can go when he bids to follow up his second placed finish. He was good right through the bag last week but it was his previous top 10 this season which caught the eye. That was at the Scandinavian Mixed where he was T10 but the women went well that week so he was even better among the men. Key to that success was him ranking fifth in strokes gained on approach and putting, picking up 8.868 shots to the field with the irons and 7.780 to it with the flat stick. Those are the two components most needed here so in a much weaker field I’ll pay to see how he gets on.
Garrick Porteous caught the eye last week before fading into a tie for 16th but that was still a creditable effort. What I liked was how only one player hit more greens than him for the week and although he finished way down the field in the BMW International Open two starts previously, he was ranked 11 for GIR there. That saw him sixth and 16 for strokes gained on approach in those tournaments. The problem has obviously been the putter but he seems to like these greens because he has finished fourth and tenth in the two tournaments here so there is clearly something about the Fairmont greens that allows him to get the ball to the hole. If that happens again here he could go very well indeed.
My last two outsiders are going to be stabs in the dark with the first of them being Lucas Bjerregaard. He has absolutely no form to speak of in 2022 but he didn’t have any when heading to this tournament a year ago and finished T10. He is a former winner of the Dunhill Links so it would appear that playing golf in Scotland inspires him to bring his best stuff to the party. Bjerregaard went round in 62 blows in the second round here last year so when it comes together he can shoot low. If he is anything close to his best here he’ll lead these a merry dance. Form would suggest he isn’t but if a switch gets flicked he could outrun big odds.
I’ll also take a shot in the dark at Lee Slattery who played just his third DP World Tour event of the season last week but recorded a second top 20 finish, coming home T11 after a week where he posted a couple of 69s over the weekend. That gives him something to build on and with him ranking 20 for strokes gained on approach and putting he doesn’t have to find a huge amount to be contending once again here. He was T38 here last year, opening with a 68 and closing with a 65 and has a top 10 finish at the Scottish Open on his CV and a top 20 at the Dunhill Links. At his best he has two wins to his name at this level and six other top three finishes. He won’t need to be at his best in this company so he feels a big price.
Back D.Law to win Hero Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back P.Waring to win Hero Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back G.Porteous to win Hero Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-6)
Back L.Bjerregaard to win Hero Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-6)
Back L.Slattery to win Hero Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 201.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)