Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Golf Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
The Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland. Par 72, 7,307 Yards
Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, Scotland. Par 72, 7,345 Yards
Kingsbarns Golf Links, Fife, Scotland. Par 72, 7227 Yards
An impressive triumvirate of venues plays host to one of the quirkiest and most enjoyable events on the European Tour, as a strong field heads north of the border for the nineteenth staging of the Alfred Dunhill Links on the east coast of Scotland. The Dunhill Links is a Pro-Am for the first three days, where each player and their amateur partner plays each of the host courses, before those that progress to the final round compete around the famous old links at St Andrews on the Sunday; hoping to follow the likes of Westwood, Kaymer and Montgomerie in lifting this famous trophy. The top 60 pros, and the top 20 amateurs make it to Sunday.
The mood here is generally relaxed, and the courses are set up to be enjoyed by the amateurs as much as the professionals, and this has made for traditionally low scoring over the years. Kingsbarns is the shortest and easiest of the courses, whilst Carnoustie is the most difficult.Last year the latter averaged more than two shots per round more than the others. So much this week depends on how much of a factor the wind plays, and given the forecast it could be quite substantial; far more so than the benign setup enjoyed over the past three years. All three courses are natural links venues, and the draw could play a substantial part in who contends this year. Any players getting Carnoustie in the worst of the weather could be at a very significant disadvantage.
The keys to being successful here this week will be scoring on the par 4s, wind management, and good bunker play as, wind aside, the intelligent bunkering is an effective secondary defence for all three host courses. Proven links players are far more appealing this week than players in form given the unique nature of the challenge, and I will be looking for those that have performed well at these venues both in the recent Dunhill Links events, and also when the opens were staged at St Andrews and Carnoustie.
Last Five Winners:
2018: Lucas Bjerregaard -15
2017: Tyrrell Hatton -24
2016: Tyrrell Hatton -23
2015: Thorbjorn Olesen -18
2014: Oliver Wilson -17
The Market Leaders
Rory Mcilroy (11/2) comes into this week as the market favourite following what was a fairly remarkable top 10 finish at Wentworth last week given that he opened with a 76. Rory followed that by going 69,65,67 and will be full of confidence coming into an event where he has three 2nd placed finishes in his five starts here dating back to 2009. Mcilroy is without doubt an enigma when it comes to links golf, regularly transitioning from the sublime to the ridiculous; no more so than at St Andrews back in The Open of 2010. If conditions were forecast to be calm, I would see Rory getting in amongst the leaders and challenging for his first win in this event, however what faces the players this week counts against him. Last week Rory struggled in the tough conditions on day one, as he did at Portrush, and this price isn’t one I could back, so Mcilroy isn’t for me this week.
Next in the betting is links specialist John Rahm (13/2) who plays in his maiden Dunhill Links Championship. Rahm has showed his prowess on links courses with a win and a 4th place at the last two Irish Opens, followed by an 11th place at Portrush earlier this year. What excites me about Rahm this week, is he also has the ability to go low, and that will be a big help to him here. Mcilroy can sometimes make too many errors, but Rahm is so consistent, and I don’t feel he will have any issues adapting to the multiple new venues that he will come across here. His recent form sees five top 5 finishes in his last seven events, and I can’t see him being out of contention here. The price seems fair, and he would be my favourite ahead of McIlroy.
Behind the top market two sits a home grown trip of links specialists that will all be confident of contending this week. Justin Rose (14/1) has never played this tournament, but will know the courses well individually, and showed at The US Open in 2013 at Merion that he is very capable of winning at tough links venues. His 8th placed finish last week was Rose’s second top 10 finish in his last four events, and he seems to be building some end of season momentum. Whether he is ready to win I am not convinced, and his is a price to leave for me.
Tommy Fleetwood (16/1) sits next having finished in the top five in four of his eight starts in this event. Fleetwood looked like he was going to take the title for most of the final round last year, before being pipped by Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard by one shot on the final day. Tommy will feel that he is owed a win here. A disappointing return of 60th last week won’t have any reflection on his chances here, and Fleetwood is one of the more likely contenders. Open champion Shane Lowry (18/1) has been well backed, but aside from a couple of decent finishes in 2013 and 2014, has never really enjoyed his visits here. He hasn’t yet regained the form that saw him win his first major so impressively, and is another that I don't expect to see in the mix this week.
I’ve said a lot about Rahm in the market leaders preview, and he really is a player that I like this week. Usually I wouldn't look too much at a player that hasn’t competed at a venue where the rest of the field has so much relevant experience, but I cannot think of many players more suited to a venue (or three of them) than Rahm should be to the host courses here. Rahm’s winning score of 16 under par at The Irish Open at Lahinch in July was around a new venue, and one that poses a much tougher test than this week’s. He has the perfect balance of being able to go low or grind out a score depending on the conditions, and both of those will be necessary this week.
Rahm’s main strengths lie in his short game and his pitching. With so many short par 4s across the courses this week, he will have the chance to set himself up a large number of birdie opportunities, and his putting is on fire at the moment. Over the course of the last twelve weeks, and six events, Rahm hasn’t finished outside the top 12 on any occasion. Although the only win in that time was at Lahinch, and he has struggled to put events away in the past; noticeably this season at Sawgrass, and last week at Wentworth, I can see that coming to an end here. With Rory taking nearly 20% of the market, Rahm represents value, and I will be backing him win only with 6 points win at 13/2.
Twenty four year old Spaniard Adri Arnaus is a real talent, and I’m expecting him to become one of the most talked about players on the European Tour over the next 12-18 months. Arnaus has two top 6 finishes in his last four events at the Czech Masters, and the European Masters, along with a highly impressive 15th placed finish at the Irish Open a few months ago. Like any Spaniards, Rahm included, Arnaus is comfortable on links venues, and has a piercing low ball flight that puts him in perfect shape to challenge this week if the wind gets up.
Another plus for Arnaus is the relative lack of length required here. Kingsbarns and Carnoustie both have a couple of longer holes, but predominantly the need is going to be for a great wedge game, and strong course management. Adri is another that hasn’t played these venues, but as links courses go, these are as straightforward as you get. There are few blind shots, and gauging distance will be no more of a challenge for the young Spaniard than it will be for the rest of the field in these testing conditions. Arnaus is a superstar in the making, and should be half of the price quoted this week. I will be having 2 points e/w at 100/1.
I have had my eye on young Swede Joakim Lagergren for a few weeks now as his game has developed nicely; posting a couple of strong top 10 finishes before an impressive top 25 at Wentworth last week on a course far less suited to his strengths than what he will encounter last week. Lagergren is an unnoticed links specialist. Last season he finished 12th at the Irish Open, and 23rd at the Scottish Open when otherwise largely out of form. That was followed this season by another top 30 in the Irish Open, and top 10 finishes at the Scandinavian Invitation and KLM Open; both on courses heavily exposed to wind.
Unsurprisingly given the recent propensity for strong finishes on windy and links courses, Lagergren has also enjoyed relative success at the Dunhill. In his four appearances to date, he has twice finished in the top five, and also posted a 12th two years ago. This is not the form of a 100/1 chance and, combined with his excellent recent play, there is a lot of value to backing Lagergren with 1 point e/w at 100/1.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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