The 146th Open Championship is just a week away now, and that leaves hopeful winners with just one last chance to prepare.
And for Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, that chance comes at the Scottish Open, held at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, just down the road from regular Open host Royal Troon.
The pair lead the betting, Fowler 8/1 favourite and Rory 10/1.
But while the duo share top billing, that’s where the similarities end.
A rib injury has severely hampered Rory’s campaign, and despite returning to action in March it’s been a disjointed and disappointing campaign
And following on from a dismal outing at the Irish Open a week ago, it’s hard to be confident about Rory’s chances this weekend – and next weekend if we’re being honest.
As for Fowler, there’s every chance he can come good over the next 10 days. The American won this event two years ago, and his 2017 form is excellent.
Third at the Quicken Loans National last time out, fifth at the US Open a month ago and a contender for most of the Masters weekend in April, Fowler has arguably never been in better shape.
The real intrigue in the betting lies behind this leading duo, however.
Reigning champion Alex Noren is 16/1, and should be worth consideration.
The Swede hasn’t quite cracked on the PGA Tour yet, but his European form bodes well. From five starts this year Noren has finished 21st or higher every time, including victory at the BMW PGA Championship in May.
Noren’s compatriot Henrik Stenson is also 16/1. Like his Swedish colleague, Stenson has struggled on the PGA events, but four top tens from five on the European Tour is all you need to know.
Branden Grace is certainly worth a look at 25/1, with the South African very much one of the names touted as a Major winner in the very near future. More than comfortable on links courses, a good performance this weekend would set him up nicely for Birkdale.
And looking further down the order, Chris Wood and Graeme McDowell could be worth each-way punts at 66/1 and 80/1 respectively.
The Dundonald course should suit the former, while the latter’s links experience should come to the fore this weekend.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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