There will be a real feel-good factor circling around at the latest DP World Tour event, after the jubilation following the European Ryder Cup win. Jamie Worsley has taken a detailed look at the Alfred Dunhill Links and given you his best bets for the Tournament.

Alfred Dunhill Links Betting Tips

  • 1.5 pts Thorbjorn Olesen each way (1/4 – 5 places) – 33/1 
  • 1 pt Romain Langasque each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 50/1 
  • 1 pt Callum Shinkwin each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 55/1 
  • 1 pt Marcus Helligkilde each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 90/1
  • 0.75 pts Sami Valimaki each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 125/1
  • 0.75 pts Shubhankar Sharma each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 150/1

After a sensational week for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup, the DP World Tour returns to action, as we approach the climax of the 2023 season.

There are five more events before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai from the 16-19th of November, starting with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this week.

Tournament History & Format

The event was first staged in 2001 and sees pros and their amateur partners – including famous faces from the worlds of sport, entertainment and business – rotate around three iconic Scottish links tracks over the course of the week: the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie Golf Links and Kingsbarns Golf Links.

Following completion of the third round, after which point everyone will have played each course once, the top players on the individual leaderboard, as well as the top pro-am teams, return for one final spin around St Andrews.

Paul Lawrie won that inaugural 2001 edition with a one-stroke win over Ernie Els and was one of three Scottish winners in the first five years, with Stephen Gallacher winning in 2004 and Colin Montgomerie in 2005 – the last Scot to win the tournament.

Two-time Open Champion, Padraig Harrington was the first player to win the event twice, in 2002 and 2006. Something that was also achieved by Tyrrell Hatton in 2017, following up his win the previous year to become the first player to successfully defend the championship; doing so with a record -24 winning score.

Ryan Fox, who is somewhat of a links specialist, won the second of his two DP World Tour titles in 2023 here last year, taking down Alex Noren and Callum Shinkwin by one shot. He returns to defend this week and is joined by an undoubtedly buoyant trio from last week’s winning European Ryder Cup team.

The Courses

The tournament takes place on three links courses on Scotland’s East Coast but due to the pro-am nature of this event and much larger field size, they won’t be setup anywhere near as difficult as if they – in St Andrews’ and Carnoustie’s case – were hosting the Open Championship.

Having said that, links golf is always at the mercy of the elements due to the exposed nature of the courses and the fact they are located by the coast. If the wind blows, even easier setups won’t be able to save the players. Alternatively, as with many of these courses, if conditions are benign, the courses can be got at.

Old Course at St Andrews – 7318-yard par 72

The Old Course at St Andrews is often described as the “Home of Golf” and is simply one of the most iconic – and oldest – stages in the sport.

It was established in the 1500s and shaped by nature itself, though there have been many renovation projects in the subsequent years; the most important of which were conducted by Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris in the 1800s.

The course is a classic links test, with firm, wide and undulating fairways, matched by huge, sloping greens that are abound with run-offs and a plethora of punishing pot bunkers. There are just two par 5s and par 3s here, with the par 4s dominating the course; providing a good mixture of scorable and potentially drivable holes, with challenging ones.

The Old Course has hosted the Open Championship on thirty occasions – more than any other course. The first was held in 1873 and won by Tom Kidd of Scotland, whilst the most recent was last year, as Australia’s Cameron Smith broke the St Andrews Open Championship scoring record, firing a score of -20 on his way to victory.

Carnoustie Golf Links – 7394-yard par 72

Carnoustie is another course that can trace its origins as far back as the 1500s. However, the course that stands today was begun by Allan Robertson in 1842 and extended by Old Tom Morris in 1857; before five-time Open champion, James Braid made alterations in the 1920s.

Ignoring the impact the weather conditions can have, Carnoustie would be rated as the most difficult of these three courses.

The fairways are quite narrow in places and packed with penalty, as a burn bends right through the course and there are several out-of-bounds areas. Bunkers are also a prominent feature with over 110 on the grounds, many of which are severely deep.

The large, undulating greens offer plenty of variety, with a significant number that are long and narrow; protected by more of that strong bunkering and countless run-off areas. Getting up-and-down is a real challenge.

A couple of short par 5s offer some respite but Carnoustie is typically all about getting out unscathed, which might be a huge issue should you be unlucky enough to play this course on one of the trickier, windier days.

Kingsbarns Golf Links – 7227-yard par 72

Kingsbarns is the newest and generally easiest course of the three. Though play on this land can be traced back further, this course is still a relative baby. It was designed by Kyle Phillips and opened for play in 2000.

Despite that, this modern links fits in nicely alongside the more natural, aged courses in the area, with wide undulating fairways and greens protected by many pot bunkers.

It is the only course which has four par 5s – which can all be got at – and along with a drivable par 4 on the front nine, we can see why scoring here is generally better.

Having said this, none of that is a match for the elements and if playing this exposed course in windy conditions, you can easily be found out.

The Stats

Key Stats:

  • Scrambling
  • Sand Saves
  • SG: Putting

Tournament-specific stats for this event tend to be unreliable, with countless rounds of data for many players nowhere to be found. Therefore, they are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

I often think that the short game is a good place to start with links golf and with some strong winds on the way, I expect it to hold extra importance this week. It won’t just be difficult to hit the greens, which will obviously bring in the need for some quality scrambling and bunker play, but precise iron play will not be straightforward and with some huge green complexes across the venues, you’re going to have to be good on the greens.

Secondary Stats:

  • Greens-in-Regulation
  • SG: Approach
  • Driving Distance

Greens-in-regulation and approach numbers are typically strong for winners here and controlling those approach shots well should make your job on and around-the-greens a little less challenging. Whilst finally, there is no denying that big hitters have a very good record in this event, with St Andrews setting up particularly well for such players.

Correlating Events

Whilst the level of difficulty this week won’t be quite that of an Open Championship, links golf is so unique that any results on links courses should suit as a correlation. So it is certainly worth looking out for players who have performed well in that oldest of majors.

Additional form on links courses can be found in the Scottish Open since 2011 and several recent renewals of the Irish Open (2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019). It also worth checking out the 2019 British Masters and 2022 Cazoo Classic – both played at Hillside – whilst in the vicinity of some of this week’s courses, the 2020 Scottish Championship and 2021/2022 versions of the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews should also be considered; as a modern links-like course.

Form in the Portugal Masters and Qatar Masters has historically transferred itself to the links and vice versa. Further to that, the last three editions of the Dutch/KLM Open at Bernardus Golf and the Abu Dhabi Championship since 2022 at Yas Links can provide further clues; 2019 Dunhill Links champion, Victor Perez has been victorious at each of these linksy courses.

The Weather

Though Carnoustie is a little further north of the other two courses, all three are on the East Coast of Scotland and will largely suffer similar conditions this week. Temperatures are forecast to be a little nippy and there is rain forecast both before and over the first two days of the event.

Wind is set to be a feature all week, gusting at up to 20mph on the first day but gets stronger over the rest of the week; Saturday looks particularly challenging, with constant winds of between 20-30 mph across the three courses and gusts of between 26-34mph.

The Field

The field is headed by two of the triumphant players from the Ryder Cup, world #8 Matt Fitzpatrick and #13 Tommy Fleetwood, with Robert Macintyre at #55 making up that trio who’ve made the trip from Marco Simone.

There are two further players in attendance from inside the world’s top 50: #33 and defending champion Ryan Fox and #49 Billy Horschel, who makes his fourth straight DP World Tour appearance.

Matt Kuchar has ventured over for the first time since 2018 and there’s a number of players from LIV who have gotten an invite, including 2010 Open Championship winner, Louis Oosthuizen and the man who ranks 2nd in that series this year, Talor Gooch.

Last year’s Amateur Championship winner, Aldrich Potgieter makes his first Dunhill Links start and as always, there are spots for the top ranked players from both the South African and Australian tours.

Selections

Tommy Fleetwood is the 15/2 favourite this week; followed by Matt Fitzpatrick at 12/1 and last year’s winner, Ryan Fox at 14s.

The Dunhill Links is not an event to be looking at the favourites for me. There can be a lot of luck involved with potential draw biases across the three courses and the pro-am element typically creates a more relaxed vibe. This has been a major factor in the amount of big priced winners over the years, with Tyrrell Hatton in 2017 the only player from the top handful of players in the betting to win in the last ten years.

I’ve selected three players at triple figures but I start just outside the most fancied with a former winner of this event, who I’ve backed three times over his last four starts, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.

1.5 pts Thorbjorn Olesen each way (1/4 – 5 places) – 33/1 

Olesen has shown a good level of form right throughout the year and though we’re yet to see a return from the three events in which I’ve put him up over recent weeks, he’s done little to dissuade me that he’s close to a second win of the year.

He was solid in respective 40th and 45th-place finishes in the European Masters and Irish Open but stepped that form up on his latest start when 10th in the Open de France, where he was one of the very strongest ball-strikers in the field; ranking 4th off-the-tee and 5th in approach.

The quality approach play in France was not a surprise for a player who ranks 7th in the area across the season and 13th in greens-in-regulation; complimenting these impressive ball-striking stats with some attractive short-game numbers, ranking 18th in scrambling and 19th in putting. He’s a fine match for this challenge.

The Dane demonstrated this when winning the Dunhill Links back in 2015, three years after he was runner-up to Branden Grace. He has plenty of correlating form that strengthens his case too, having finished 2nd and 3rd in Qatar and recorded bests of 9th and 12th in the Open Championship.

Olesen was a commanding four-shot winner of the Thailand Classic back in February. He can get rewards for his consistency since then by claiming both a second a win of the year and second Dunhill Links title this week.

1 pt Romain Langasque each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 50/1 

As the winner of the prestigious Amateur Championship at Carnoustie in 2015, Romain Langasque is a player with proven links pedigree. He’s enjoyed a good year on tour so far and with one of the sharpest short games currently on show in this field, he can finally get that win over the line this week.

Langasque has missed just three cuts in twenty-one starts in 2023, recording eleven top 25s and three top 10s; his best performance coming when 2nd in the Italian Open.

After a month-long break following a creditable 33rd-place finish in The Open, he’s continued to show promising signs over recent weeks, finishing 23rd in the Irish Open and 14th in the BMW PGA Championship on his two latest starts.

He did sit out the Open de France two weeks ago due to muscle pain, which is a slight concern. Though if willing to miss his home championship, it’s safe to assume that if those problems still persisted he’d be sitting out this week too.

The Frenchman’s short game has been electric over the last three months, ranking 4th in this field on the greens over that period and top 10 around them. Rankings of 6th in sand saves, 12th in scrambling, 15th in driving distance and 38th in GIR completes his strong profile for the event.

Langasque missed the cut here on his first three attempts but recorded his best finish last year, when 36th. Aside from that Amateur Championship win, he once again displayed his links prowess by finishing 3rd in the 2019 Scottish Open and with further confidence taken from top 15 finishes at Fairmont St Andrews and Yas Links, he looks to have a big chance this week.

1 pt Callum Shinkwin each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 55/1 

Callum Shinkwin finished as a narrow runner-up in this event last year and with his tee-to-green game looking in good shape over recent starts, I think he is playing well enough to go one better this time around.

Shinkwin started the year strongly with a 4th-place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic on his second start, though had his year derailed by a wrist injury the following week and largely sat out the next three months.

He returned to DP World Tour action with an encouraging 9th in the Italian Open at the beginning of May but couldn’t build on it, then going on to miss his next nine cuts in a row.

Shinkwin stopped the rot when finishing 61st in the Irish Open three starts ago, finally finding something with his irons and looks to have turned a corner; following that with two excellent tee-to-green performances on the bounce on his two latest starts.

He was the fifth-best player T2G when finishing 7th at Wentworth three weeks ago, producing his best approach performance since the 2020 Scottish Open; then ranking 4th T2G when 51st in the Open de France on his last start, with the putter holding him back from finishing higher.

Shinkwin’s 2nd in last year’s Dunhill Links was his second top 10 in the event in three starts, having finished 10th in 2019, whilst he also finished runner-up in the 2017 Scottish Open – his second top 10 in that tournament after finishing 8th in 2016. He has great affinity with golf in this part of the world and can add another strong Scottish showing to his resume this week.

1 pt Marcus Helligkilde each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 90/1

Marcus Helligkilde has been in great form over recent starts and with all areas of his game starting to come together, he is an appealing price to collect a first DPWT title this week.

Helligkilde made his full debut on tour last year after a superb three-win season on the Challenge Tour in 2021. He showed plenty of promise in 2022 with several top 10s and carried that form over into this season.

The Dane missed just one of his first seven cuts in 2023 and recorded three finishes of 17th or better over those starts, including a runner-up finish on the Korea Championship at the end of April. His form stuttered following that close call but be burst back into life when 4th at Galgorm Castle in the ISPS Handa Invitational and has recorded two further top 25s in his last three starts: finishing 13th in the European Masters and 25th in the BMW PGA Championship.

He has gained strokes in all areas across those starts and ranks 16th in this field in strokes-gained: total over the last twenty rounds played. It has been pleasing to see the driver – which was his strongest club last season – return to some kind of form and his performance at Wentworth was his best performance OTT this year. Rankings of 15th in scrambling and 26th in GIR offer more encouragement for his chances this week and as someone not short of power off-the-tee, he fits the bill of many past winners.

Helligkilde missed the cut last year and doesn’t have a great deal of links form. However, 12th-place finishes in Qatar and the Dutch Open show his suitability to open, linksy challenges and he can follow in the footsteps of fellow Dane’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard in winning the Dunhill Links.

0.75 pts Sami Valimaki each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 125/1

We’re going to stick with the Nordic theme for my next selection with Finland’s Sami Valimaki. His year has been littered with quality performances and from a statistical point of view, he ticks a lot of boxes in Scotland.

Valimaki has maintained a high standard of play throughout the season. He started with a 2nd in the Joburg Open at the end of last year and kicked off 2023 in similar form, finishing 2nd in Singapore and 10th in Abu Dhabi over his first four starts.

Since his 2nd in Singapore, the Finn has recorded six more top 25s in fifteen starts, with a second-best effort of the year coming just four starts ago, where he was well in contention in the Czech Masters before settling for a 4th-place finish.

The ball-striking has been rock-solid all season but it’s with the short game that he has excelled most, ranking 26th on the greens, 37th in scrambling and 44th out of the bunkers. Which he put to use when finishing 22nd here last year on his second start in the tournament.

Outside of that, Valimaki’s links form in the pro game is sparse but he should be more than familiar with this style of golf having played it plenty in his amateur days. His 10th at Yas Links at the start of this year and 16th at Hillside last year provide us with added evidence of what he can do on similar setups.

0.75 pts Shubhankar Sharma each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 150/1

Shubhankar Sharma has missed the cut on each of his three starts in this event but as a player in good form and with many efforts on correlating courses, I think he’s capable of improving that record this week.

Part of that recent promising form for the Indian was an excellent 8th in the Open Championship at Hoylake four starts ago and following an over one-month absence, he has continued his form, finishing 7th in the Irish Open and 36th at Wentworth; both times carrying on the quality approach play he displayed in Liverpool – where he ranked 3rd in that elite field.

That quality of approach play sees Sharma rank 13th in this field on most recent form, whilst he’s also a solid 57th out of the bunkers. However, it’s the putter which has shone most season-long, ranking 10th on the DPWT. Sustaining that recent return to some quality approach play and combining it with his typical excellence on the greens should serve him well this week.

Aside from that superb showing in The Open, he has bundles of eye-catching form elsewhere. His record at Yas Links stands out in particular, where he’s finished 2nd and 7th on two visits; multiple top 20 efforts at Bernardus Golf and a 16th at Fairmont St Andrews in 2021 offer additional promise.

It seems like a lifetime ago since a 21-year-old Sharma burst onto the scene with two DPWT wins early in the 2017/2018 season. Though winless since then, he has contended several times over the last three years and has plenty in his favour to do so again this week.

Share Article

(Visited 1,262 times, 1 visits today)