Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places
Weather forecast for The Renaissance Club: It’s sunshine and cloud throughout the golfing day with around a 16-20% chance of rain. Temperatures start in the mid-50s and build to a peak of around 66 degrees in mid-to-late afternoon. Those crucial wind speeds: they’re modest at around 4-7mph.
First-round leader history at the Scottish Open:
2020 – Lee Westwood (62)
2019 – Nino Bertasio, Matt Kuchar, Romain Wattel, Edoardo Molinari (63)
2018 – Luke List (67)
2017 – Mikko Ilonen (65)
2016 – Felipe Aguilar, Scott Hend (69)
Strategy: There doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage so I’ll have a free pick and not pay much attention to tee-times. The 2019 and 2020 editions were at this week’s course so it looks like potential first-round leaders will need a low one.
Side with Sullivan
Andy Sullivan heads to Scotland this week in fine form.
The Englishman was sixth at May’s British Masters and his last two starts have brought fifth in the BMW International Open and 12th in last week’s Irish Open.
Sullivan was fourth after 18 holes in Ireland last week and we only have to go back to December to find his latest first-round lead. That came at the Golf in Dubai Championship where he fired a blistering 61.
This is an event he’s always enjoyed. Sullivan was 16th on debut in 2012, posted back-to-back top 10s in 2016 and 2017 while in the two editions at The Renaissance Club he’s added 28th and 26th.
As for quick starts, he was third after day one in 2016 and, at this week’s course, openers of 64 and 67 have put him fifth and 12th respectively.
There’s lots to like about Sullivan’s first-round chances and I’ll take him at 66/1 to go low from his 07:40 tee-time.
Kalle worth another chance
I picked out Kalle Samooja as a FRL pick in Ireland and he wasn’t too far off landing the each-way money.
The Finn eventually carded a 68 to finish 19th after Thursday’s play although a Friday 74 meant an early exit.
However, a trawl through his scorecards shows that he’s quite familiar at missing the cut one week and coming out fast the next.
We saw that in Spain recently when he crashed out of the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and then shot a 64 in round one of the Tenerife Open just six days later.
A proven fast starter, he’s ended round one in the top six in five of his last nine starts but that’s not all.
A look at his record at the Renaissance Club adds further cause for optimism: he fired an opening 64 in 2019 and a 65 in 2020 to sit fifth after 18 holes both times.
Samooja tees it up at 14:20 and is worth a spin at 100/1.
Burns get get hot
It’s easy to think some of the slightly surprise American entrants this week will take a round or two to get used to conditions.
However, in the last two Scottish Opens played in the summer (2020’s took place in October), an American has topped the leaderboard.
Luke List led the way in 2018 while Matt Kuchar had the joint-lead here in 2019.
That record is even more ingrained in the Open Championship where US players have topped the R1 leaderboard every year since 2015.
The one I’ll play here is Sam Burns at 45/1.
Burns was the first-round leader at Riviera earlier this year while he was also in the top four after the opening lap of both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Phoenix Open.
More recently, he’s been in the top 10 after day one in three of his last five events. That includes a 66 to start with in his latest outing at the Travelers Championship.
Burns begins his adventure at 12:50.