It’s worthwhile considering the form of the main candidates at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship:
Any doubts about Westwood’s fitness following an injury lay-off were swept away by a superb Ryder Cup performance, particularly when leading the pivotal third session alongside Luke Donald. He’s won this title before, in 2003, and finished top ten in six of the last seven renewals. It would be no surprise to see Lee kickstart a late-season bid for the Race to Dubai.
Is this the week when Rory finally shoots a round in the 70s at St Andrews? His record here is too good to retain forever, but it would take a brave man to take him on, after finishes of third, eighth and second in this event. I should point out, however, that McIlroy’s record in bad weather to date is very disappointing.
It was fitting that McDowell emerged as the hero of Celtic Manor, winning the decisive final point. Nobody typified the European challenge more than GMac, who looked utterly driven throughout. I’d be surprised if he can maintain that mindset for this relaxed pro-am, in which his record is largely disappointing.
Goosen is another surprising serial failure in this event, as his wider links and St Andrews record is superb. Perhaps these six hour-plus rounds with celebrities don’t suit his temperament. If in the right frame of mind, his US form is certainly good enough to warrant consideration.
Though a twice former champion, Harrington makes no appeal whatsoever. Pod’s form at the Ryder Cup did nothing to justify getting a wildcard ahead of Casey or Rose, and both he and captain Monty owe Ross Fisher a huge debt of gratitude for the two points their team won.
Rumford is both bang in form and proven in terrible weather. Among six top 15s, he’s finished runner-up twice this season, both in weather-affected events and also made the top 20 here in both the last two renewals. He’s first reserve should any of the picks withdraw.
The 2008 champion has snippets of excellent form this year, but hasn’t shown anything like the consistency of his winning season.
Francesco’s short-putting woes at Celtic Manor showed to a wider audience why he’s so hard to back. Especially here, where his best from five is just 36th.
Edoardo is arguably the most improved player in the world this year, but cannot yet boast any evidence of links prowess.
Hanson didn’t produce his best at Celtic Manor, but was in his best ever form in the run-up. He has a couple of top tens in this event without ever challenging, but shouldn’t be under-estimated.
The defending champion was in excellent form last month, when vainly chasing a Ryder Cup spot. That failure at least means he will be fresher than most of his principal rivals.
Winning this title back in 2004 remains easily the highlight of Gallacher’s career, although this season has been his most consistent. He’s made seven top 20s, four times inside the top six, since the beginning of May and is known as an excellent bad-weather player.
This consistent Frenchman has made the top 20 in both the last two Dunhill renewals, and copes better with bad weather than most.
For the second season running, Donaldson is showing plenty of improvement without winning. He has six top tens this year, including third on his penultimate start. He also seems to thrive in wind and rain, but on the downside, is rather dodgy under pressure.
Quiros wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Ryder Cup side, and is always to be respected. He doesn’t seem ideally suited to links and failed in the last two renewals here, but did finish a respectable 11th in the Open at St Andrews.
2010 STATS: -14pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
5pts MARTIN KAYMER TO WIN THE RACE TO DUBAI @ 9/1