There are no prizes for anyone who guessed that I would oppose Mickelson both this week and next, given that I’ve never backed him in Britain and surely never will. His record in these two big summer events is atrocious, registering just three top-ten finishes in 22 attempts at either the Scottish Open or Open Championship. In fairness, Loch Lomond is much more suitable than any links, and he did finish runner-up in 2007. However, with bad weather forecast, I’ll be surprised to see him anywhere near the lead on Sunday.
If opposing Mickelson has been my long-running July banker, then exactly the opposite applies to the finest player of Scottish golf courses in recent decades, Ernie Els. His course record even rivals his magnificent Open figures, with two titles, five top-fives and only once finishing worse than 13th in ten visits to Loch Lomond. The bad weather should further strengthen his claim, and even at just 14/1, he had to make the shortlist. If that price is a little too short, a match bet against Mickelson looks the play of the week.
As last week, Kaymer tries to defend his title on a course that obviously suits him down to the ground. If he pulls it off, it will be frustrating to miss out having spent so much on him recently, but after a disappointing weekend performance holding the lead, I’m looking elsewhere.
What an incredible achievement it would be were G-Mac to pull off a hat-trick of titles, having won the Wales Open and US Open on his last two starts. He’s already won this title in 2008, so has good cause to feel confident, although the law of averages suggest this week is somebody else’s turn.
I hinted last week that Schwartzel might be a pick here, and that remained the plan until I saw the weather forecast. For while Charl looks a winner waiting to happen, and has good previous form at Loch Lomond, finishing runner-up in 2006, he has never struck me as particularly well suited to bad weather golf.
Another top star who might have been backed in good weather, but makes less appeal given the forecast. Still, 40/1 about Villegas is absolutely massive on the basis of his best PGA Tour form, and he seemed to like the layout when making the top 20 on last year’s course debut.
Allenby twice made the top three here at Loch Lomond in the 1990s, and even if he’s done little here since, his best form over the past nine months would make him a threat to all. I am rather deterred by his last few efforts though, since withdrawing from an event with illness.
As in every other recent event, Davies has to come in for close consideration as he’s barely hitting a bad round. One might think he’d be at a slight disadvantage making his course debut, but the same could have been said on several other occasions where he’s thrived.
It seems remarkable that, during a season that he’s rarely looked in peak form, Jimenez has won two prestigious titles. Nevertheless, he’s tended to hold his form well over the years, and with top-15 finishes here in four of last five years, the Spaniard is no forlorn hope to win back to back.
Alejandro’s play-off defeat on Sunday was just typical of my recent lack of luck when it matters, but still confirmed his profile as a significant improver, long overdue a second title. He must warrant respect on that basis, though I wonder whether the bad weather will curtail him this week.
The other matter that Sunday’s drama confirmed was that Francesco Molinari is unbackable unless coming from off the pace. He just hasn’t learned the art of Sunday golf yet, and rates a poor 33/1 chance on that basis.
Like last week, Edoardo made the shortlist, as his form on either side of the Atlantic commands the utmost respect. I can’t see why this relatively prolific winner should be twice the odds of his brother.
Surprisingly, Vijay has never used Loch Lomond for his Open prep before, but can’t be written off after top 15s on three of his last four PGA Tour starts.
Jacquelin ticks several boxes in terms of recent and course form. He’s registered top 20s in six of his last nine starts, including a couple of top threes, and was also runner-up on this course last year.
After Sunday’s top five, his third of a solid PGA Tour campaign, Holmes takes the eye on this rare overseas outing. It also bodes well that long-hitters have often gone well here, but on the downside the bad weather could come as too much of a culture shock.
Arguably the best outsider could be Ferrie, who has turned around his season over the past fortnight. He looked set for a second consecutive top five on Sunday, before an extremely costly quintuple bogey on the final hole. For a player of his lowly stature, four top 20s from six attempts at Loch Lomond reads well.