first_imgOne of the moments of this crazy summer was a round of golf in Scotland. Yes, seeing President Trump play at Turnberry was a bizarre sight in a remarkable year but the really important rounds will be played in The Open at Carnoustie and we can expect a wild four days on the legendary course.Carnoustie, the venue for seven championships, is also amongst the hardest courses The Open uses (and perhaps the hardest). A Par 71 that measures 7,402 yards, it has a large amount of Out Of Bounds areas in play and just two par fives for the field to take, and it is peppered with spectacular defence bunkers – perhaps the toughest of any course used for The Open – and the pin positions are merciless.Looking back at the previous Opens held at Carnoustie, and the last ten winners, it is clear that exceptional all-round golfers win this with the only two standouts being a links specialist and also an excellent scrambler around the green.A heatwave this summer has left what is normally quite thick grass absolutely baked, with players managing to drive the ball more than 50-100 yards further than normal – Brandt Snedeker managed to hit a 427-yard drive in practice – which throws in another random factor given that hitting the fairway is normally the oracle here.It all makes for a great punting challenge where everyone has a chance and perhaps the best of those goes to Rickie Fowler (16/1 with The flamboyant Californian is the best current player who does not have a major to his name but it’s literally a matter of time and his record in majors is top class – 11-5-22-5-2-20 – his links record is also excellent.After his 20th at Shinnecock Hills, he was 12th at the Quicken Loans National and warmed up with a fine sixth at the Scottish Open, an excellent preparation that has been taken by previous winners before. The Scottish Open has been played on a links course since 2011 and six of the last eight winners have used it as a springboard, the exceptions being Zach Johnson and Jordan Speith.The scorched surface should play right into the hands of Patrick Reed (33/1 with and the Masters winner gave us a preview of how one could play such a tough setup with a brilliantly gutsy fourth in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills. He has a long history with links – indeed he won the 2006 Junior Open at Heswall.He might well be a great deal shorter for this had it not been for his run in with the bunker at the Scottish Open, when he was -9 before he needed three attempts to get out of the bunker as he carded a double bogey for the par-three hole. Had he avoided that mishap then he might well have contended – those are the breaks with links – but he’s in great form, is as ballsy a player as you can find in the field, scrambles and putts brilliantly, and does have two Top 20 finishes in the Open beforehand.Two of the young guns have made the portfolio so far but The Open is a major that rewards experience and does not discriminate in terms of age. Four of the last seven Open Champions have been 40 or older and Zach Johnson was 39 when winning so having been around a while is no barrier.Sergio Garcia (33/1 with is no veteran yet but his career has been a long and successful one, with a first Major thanks to his Masters success last year. The Spaniard is a fantastic Majors player – you don’t get so close for so long without being one – and The Open is perhaps his favourite event with an amazing ten finishes in the top ten.Two of those include near misses including back to back seconds at Hoylake and here at Carnoustie the next year. Only Tiger Woods at his peak beat him the first time before he lost a playoff in the missing an eight-footer for victory in the final round and then losing the play-off to Harrington after. Conditions in 2006 were so hard and fast that Tiger Woods only used one driver all week in victory and next year he mastered the setup to nearly lead from the first to last stroke.His recent form has been strong, with a 12th placed finish at the BMW Championship whilst he was eighth at the French Open in a good warmup and his scrambling skills ought to be a huge help here.It has taken Branden Grace (33/1 with several tries to get the hang of The Open but the South African is an unbelievable links player and he put it all together when shooting a Championship record 62 – the best ever round in a major – at Royal Birkdale last year. He finished tied for sixth then and there’s tons of evidence of his links prowess.Conditions this week will be unbelievably tough, but he mastered Chambers Bay in the 2015 US Open before one late bad swing cost him and if anyone can survive such a track then it can be the South African.Last but never least, make room for Alex Noren (33/1 with His six wins on the European Tour is more than any other golfer in the ranks and they include a fine performance to beat many of the main contenders here at the French Open. Tied sixth last year, his win at the PGA Championship in 2017 the biggest win outside of a Major he can have and his links record stands upto the test. He shot 64 here in the 2016 Dunhill Links and his Scottish record is terrific – a win, a second and two thirds from 11 starts.RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)BACK RICKIE FOWLER 1 point each-way at 16/1 with starsports.betBACK BRANDEN GRACE 1 point each-way at 33/1 with starsports.betBACK SERGIO GARCIA 1 point each-way at 33/1 with starsports.betBACK PATRICK REED 1 point each-way at 33/1 with starsports.betBACK ALEX NOREN 1 point each-way at 33/1 with starsports.betCLICK HERE FOR STARSPORTS.BET MARKET PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 108.40 pointslast_img read more