BARCLAYS SCOTTISH OPEN PICKS

It is commonplace around here to hear whining about how strong performances in Europe, do not seem to translate over to the perception of players on the PGA Tour. Could the opposite be true this week?

Camilo Villegas
Villegas enters this week on a run of mediocre finishes. He has finished be 29-33 in his past three events. Villegas has made nine straight cuts, which could indicate solid play, but he hasn’t finished higher than 13th in that stretch. Still my numbers put him with around a 7% chance to win this week as the highest ranked player in the field. All in all, I’m not convinced that Villegas’ thrashing style of play will fit the tighter parkland layout at Loch Lomond. Villegas is a guy that has potential to get better in his late 20’s, has solid results and is not getting a ton of attention. 25-1, sounds like a really good price, but I’m still a little apprehensive to bite on some of these bigger name guys.

Brian Gay
Brian Gay at 50-1, might be the most alarming odds of the week. On a tight, but not overwhelming long course, Gay seemingly has a game that is a perfect fit. He has also won twice on PGA Tour this season, both in blowout fashion and is the fourth best player in the field by my numbers. There is a lot to like here. However, it’s not exactly like Gay is an unknown player. I’m too worried there is something I’m missing here.

Thomas Aiken
Aiken had enough form to make it through last chance qualifying for the British Open. Aiken is young, 25, and as I pointed out a month or so ago has really impressive statistics in terms of hitting the ball a long way and high. That should carry over and make him a promising young player to watch, but he is just too inconsistent right now. Make no mistake, Aiken has a lot of high finishes at big events like the WGC-CA Championship and BMW EPGA Championship, but he also has debacles like Memorial and a 66-81 at the European Open to his credit. Because of these ups and downs he is only the 38th ranked player in the field this week. Another problem with Aiken is neither the Greek or 5dimes is offering odds on him right now, although the European Tour’s entry list claims he has a sponsor’s exemption.

Alex Noren:
And we have another winner. I have a man crush on Noren and his game probably suits Loch Lomond better than whatever course they played on in France last week. Noren is ranked 21st in the field, with my numbers putting his fair line around 80-1. Maybe on the face of it not as big and edge as Gay or Villegas, but I’d rather do this.

Noren +10000(.2)
Top-5 +2000(.48)
Aiken first round leader +10000(.2)

I think the Aiken first round leader is the way to go there. I’d rather take his talent in one round, than endure something like a 63-78-MC.

MATCH-UPS:
Here was the leans list(With updated lines):
McIlroy +100 v. Poulter
Villegas +110 v. Ross Fisher
Brian Gay -110 v. Nick Dougherty
W.C. Liang -105 v. Shane Lowry
Alexander Noren -125 v. Darren Clarke(Added)

W.C. is out. Again, no need to fade Lowry although I think one win actually overstates his actual ability at this point in the career.

McIlroy is close, but I think that is a pass as well. He is slightly better than Poulter in my rankings and Poulter tweeted earlier this week about how McIlroy will be hitting it 30 yards past him. Still, Poulter is on top of his game right now and this is too marginal for a chance.

I don’t see anyway to leave out the other three. Villegas is better overall than Fisher, I liked him as an outright possibility, and has gotten way less attention for recent play. Fisher is the rare example of a possibly overrated Euro Tour regular. Does Villegas win this more than 49% of the time? I think so.

Noren represents a good spot against Clarke. He is better by a significant margin(-151/151) and has a lot more upside. In his forties, Clarke has fallen out of form this year, or more approriately, returned to his form of two years ago. Can’t see any upside with Clarke and Noren has lots of it.

Nick Dougherty has been on fire of late in Europe, posting a win at the BMW International Open. I’ll take the better player with two US victories, who doesn’t seem to be getting a ton of respect.

Gay -110 v. Dougherty(1)
Villegas +110 v. Fisher(1)
Noren -125 v. Clarke(1)

RD1:
Villegas +105 v. Fisher(1)
Gay -110 v. Dougherty(1)
Ernie Els +145 v. Dougherty/Montgomerie(1)

Els might be surprising, but I think it is the way to go. I have +130 as the fair line for that, and he is going up against the popular homeland croud favorite(Montgomerie) and a man with a great recent run. It’s not like Els has on top of his game, but I think he is due for a big week.

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