There is only one week until the Open Championship at Royal Portrush and a world class field are stepping up their links preparation in the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club. Eight major champions will be in attendance this week with Rory McIlroy headlining in East Lothian.

The Renaissance Club hosts the tournament for the first time with the course, designed by Tom Doak, expected to be in immaculate condition. The 7,136 yard par 71 links will again require players to handle winds although the forecast is not too punishing for this week. Proven links performers are shortlisted as well as players with a track record of success in Scotland.


McIlroy is the 6/1 favourite but this looks short enough, having yet to finish in the top ten in five tournament starts, with his attention focused on his return to Northern Ireland next week. 2015 champion Rickie Fowler is respected with a strong record in the event but the headline selection goes instead to his American compatriot Matt Kuchar. The FedEx Cup leader, who is playing the best golf of his career, has already won twice this season after victories in Mexico and Hawaii – both on coastal courses.

Kuchar also has form at the Scottish Open with the 41-year-old taking second place at nearby Gullane in 2015. He was also fourth at Dundonald two years ago and tenth on his first visit in 2011. His ability on links was also highlighted with his runner-up spot at the Open two years ago. Kuchar, who finished 16th on his last start at the US Open and is third on the PGA Tour for greens in regulation, rates a confident each way bet at 18/1.


Simmering Stenson to contend in Scotland

Henrik Stenson is one of the best links players in the world and the Swede could be gearing up for a big fortnight in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Stenson won the Open three years ago after an unstoppable performance at Royal Troon. He was also runner-up in 2013, at Muirfield which is situated next to the Renaissance Club.

Stenson is extremely comfortable competing in Scotland and his best result in this tournament was third place at Castle Stuart in 2013. The 43-year-old was also eighth in 2012 and his recent form suggests he could be peaking this summer. Stenson followed up a top ten at the Canadian Open with a tie for ninth on his last start in the US Open at Pebble Beach. Leading the PGA Tour this season for strokes gained approaching the green, Stenson looks ready to contend at 18/1 each way.

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Henrik Stenson of Sweden waves during the third round of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 15, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Eddie Pepperell delivered an each way pay out last week and the Englishman is well worth sticking with again this week. It was an impressive return to competition for the 28-year-old after a six week layoff due to a back injury. Four rounds in the 60s saw Pepperell finish in a tie for fourth at the Irish Open, setting him up perfectly for another title challenge in Scotland.

Pepperell’s last three tournaments in Britain and Ireland have seen him win once and claim another two top fives. He clinched his second European Tour title at the British Masters in October and produced an excellent title defence, finishing runner-up at Hillside in May. Pepperell is at his best playing links golf and was second in last year’s Scottish Open at Gullane. With the rust knocked off in Ireland, Pepperell is fancied to produce another big performance on the Scottish links at 30/1 each way.

Edoardo Molinari has his eye on a place at Royal Portrush and the Italian was unlucky to narrowly miss out on Open qualification last week. Molinari tied for ninth in Ireland which was a continuation of an impressive run of form. The 38-year-old finished third last month at the BMW International Open in Germany before a solid top 30 at Valderrama.

Molinari is trending in the right direction and spoke positively about the state of his game, in particular his driving, after the top ten in Ireland. The three-time European Tour winner heads to a country where he has enjoyed notable success. Molinari won both the Scottish Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2010. More silverware in Scotland should not be discounted at 125/1 and Molinari is also worth backing at 10/1 to record another top ten finish.


Forrest could flourish in front of home fans

Grant Forrest of Scotland shelters from the wild weather during the third round of the joint EPGA and LPGA Vic Open golf tournament at the 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads near Melbourne on February 9, 2019. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Grant Forrest will be backed by the Scottish fans and the outsider looks well placed for a strong week on home soil. The 26-year-old Scot has plenty of valuable experience of playing at the Renaissance Club and earned a spot at the Open last year after taking second place in final qualifying at the course.

Forrest will be fired up playing in front of a home crowd and significantly comes in off a promising performance at the Irish Open. He surged into contention during the weekend, shooting rounds of 66 and 65 on Friday and Saturday, on his way to 14th place. Forrest was also 6th in Morocco back in April and is a tempting long shot at 150/1. There is also mileage in backing him to finish inside the top 20 at 6/1.


Matt Kuchar Each Way

Henrik Stenson Each Way

Eddie Pepperell Each Way

Edoardo Molinari and for top ten

Grant Forrest and for top 20

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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