Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Contenders
Along with Alex Noren, it’s those three that head the market, though you’d have to feel the disappointment, lack of confidence, fatigue and travel distance will all be factors against their selection.
Only twice has a Ryder Cup player gone on to win this competition since the turn of the century, and on both occasions that player came from the winning side, so we’re inclined to ignore that trio, especially at the prices.
Instead, it’s a local man that takes our fancy and that’s Robert MacIntyre. The Scot was on the charge to make Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team just a couple of months ago before a few slip ups cost him the opportunity.
He currently sits 17th in the Race to Dubai with five events left, and a strong result here will ease the pressure on the upcoming Iberian circuit, so there’s certainly a strong incentive for the Scot.
He’s a proven links player with the finishes to back that up. Consecutive Open top-10s is no mean feat while he also has top-20 finishes in each of his last two Scottish Opens.
With this taking place over three different courses (St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns), there are very few that will be as suited as MacIntyre, and in his only appearance in this event he debuted with a respectable 26th, where he ranked third for Driving Distance which has proven for some to be a key factor in going well here.
Min Woo Lee
Another that looks a little too long for our liking in Min Woo Lee. The Australian won his maiden European Tour title on his last trip to Scotland back in July, where he putted exceptionally at the Renaissance.
He can drive the ball a seriously long way which will certainly bode well in these testing conditions, averaging 312.7 yards off the tee across his last nine events, while he’s also ranked in the top-10 for putts per round in a third of his last nine made cuts, and if both are in harmony this week he’s certainly worth a punt.
Wilco Nienaber was unfortunate to miss the cut here two years ago, with his round at Carnoustie proving too much to overcome at St Andrews and Kingsbarns. He was a completely unknown entity though at that time, and his game has come on leaps and bounds since then as he looks to break into the top 100 in the world over the next year.
There’s no one bigger off the tee and after a string of four consecutive missed cuts, he bounced back with a respectable 22nd in the Dutch Open in his last event, where he hit over 80% of his greens in regulation. If he can bring that iron play to match his long drives here, then he’ll be a real force.
Finally, it’s a fourth youngster that rounds off our strategy for the week, and when looking at the big hitters it’s very hard to ignore Callum Shinkwin. While Min Woo Lee and Robert MacIntyre rank 19th and 11th for strokes gained off the tee, Englishman Shinkwin ranks fifth in that regard.
He, again, can drive the ball a mile and that helped him to a top-10 finish here on his last outing two years ago. His form is also starting to pick up slightly as he’s made five of his last seven cuts, a run that includes three top-20 finishes and two top-5s, albeit in slightly weaker fields than this.
Both those top-5s came in the UK too, and we think he certainly has the credentials to justify a better price than his current one.
MIN WOO LEE