RORY MCILROY heads a terrific field for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, with a host of other European stars in action, along with a smattering of LIV rebels to add the pantomime villains element.
McIlroy is as low as 7-2 with some bookmakers and 9-2 is about the best you’ll get – odds that don’t scream out ‘back me’, especially as the world No 2 has a tendency to get blown off course if the wind picks up.
Shane Lowry’s love of links golf means he has to be considered, especially after doing us a big favour at Wentworth.
But that win, and a share of fourth in this event last year, mean the bookmakers are also running scared where he is concerned. A general 11-1 – the same price as US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick – looks a bit skinny.
Tyrrell Hatton has a fantastic record in this tournament, with back to back wins in 2016 and 2017, and two runner-up finishes since. He looks good value at 16-1, but I think he may have to settle for a supporting role again.
Hot shot: Tommy Fleetwood, 20-1.
Fleetwood has finished second, fifth, and seventh in his last three appearances in the Dunhill, which underlines how comfortable he is playing links golf.
He was in cracking form before taking an eight week break from golf to deal with the death of his mother just after the Open – where he finished fourth, matching his effort at the Scottish equivalent a week earlier.
A stunning first round 64 when he returned to action at Wentworth was another big plus.
He could not maintain that start, with rustiness inevitably kicking in. But I will be amazed if Fleetwood does not claim a win before the end of this year.
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Mid price: Danny Willett, 33-1.
The defending champion looks seriously over-priced, especially as there was nothing flukey about last year’s two shot victory over Hatton, with rounds of 67-69-66-68.
The 2016 Masters champion also has a runner-up finish and another top five here, and despite flowing back and forth to America he has posted a second and two other top tens in his last six starts.
Sure, the three putt from just outside three feet to gift Max Homa the Fortinet Championship a couple of weeks ago will sting.
But Willett is not the type to dwell on his misfortunes, and he could easily go one better again.
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Long shot: Jeff Winther, 200-1.
It was tempting to put up Yannick Paul again at 100-1 after he rewarded each way backers at big odds in France with his share of eighth. But this is his first crack at the Dunhill, and it is likely to be a big learning experience.
Winther finished in a share of 14th last year, but looked like doing better until a weak back nine – highlighted by an ugly double bogey at the Road Hole – dropped him out of the top ten.
I expected him to kick on following his breakthrough victory at the Mallorca Open towards the end of last year, and a share of sixth in the hotly-contested Adu Dhabi Championship.
His form deserted him after that, but good performances in Switzerland and Denmark were followed by a share of eight alongside Paul in France. At double the odds, he gets the nod this time.
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