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Hero Open Betting Tips: Six picks for St Andrews including 250/1 shot

Hero Open 2022: Andy Sullivan is one of our six picks this week
Hero Open 2022: Andy Sullivan is one of our six picks this week

Just two weeks following Cameron Smith’s victory in The Open at the Old Course, we head back up to St Andrews this week for the Hero Open. Though don’t confuse this week’s test with the famous old course that hosted the year’s final major, as this is Fairmont St Andrews, a much newer golf resort built in the shadow of its famous neighbour. 

This is the third year this event has taken place, originally brought onto the schedule as a new event in 2020, compensating for the loss of events due to the pandemic. Though this is only the second year we play the event here at Fairmont St Andrews, as the 2020 version took place at the Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club in the Midlands. 

Last year’s Hero Open not the only recent event to take place here though, as in 2020 the DPWT held a one-off event here, titled the Scottish Championship.

Hero Open Betting Tips

That event in 2020 was won by Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, as he ran out a four shot winner over Matt Wallace with a winning score of -23. The low scoring at the course continued to last year’s Hero Open, as Scotland’s own Grant Forrest picked up his first DPWT title, shooting -24 to beat off James Morrison by a shot. 

Simply an event where you have to make birdies and plenty of them.

The Course

Fairmont St Andrews is home to two courses, the Kittocks Course and the one which hosts this tournament, as well as the 2020 Scottish Championship, the Torrance Course. A par 72 measuring 7230 yards.

This is a wide open and exposed resort course rather than a links, for all it may try to imitate the purest form of golf. Fairways are generous enough, whilst the greens are large, sloping and will be setup to play firm and fast, weather permitting. It has little in the way of defence if the wind doesn’t get up, providing you miss the bunkers and aren’t wild enough off-the-tee to find the thickest rough.

There are risk/reward opportunities littered throughout, with all par 5s reachable and at least three par 4s which should be drivable throughout the week. Though this is countered by a few more challenging, lengthier ones, most notably the 509 yard 2nd hole. Whilst the par 3 17th is the trickiest of the par 3s and a hole the players well look forward to getting past with a par if in contention down the stretch on Sunday.

The Stats

This course isn’t long enough or tough enough to discriminate against certain types of player. With both leaderboards for events here littered with a real mix of players. This no more on show than the two winners, where we have the accuracy dependent Adrian Otaegui, who excels around-the-greens and in approach winning in 2020, followed by the big hitting, strong putter Grant Forrest last year. With both players doing everything well when winning.

Looking further at the players in behind both winners this mix continues, with straighter and steadier types likes James Morrison, Aaron Rai and Santiago Tarrio, mixed up with big hitters like Matt Wallace, Calum Hill and Garrick Porteous.

When looking at all of these players who’ve finished top 5 at this course over the two tournaments staged here, we find that the most common themes running through their performances on the week was strong approach play and putting. Exactly what you’d expect with such low scoring events.

In 2020 only one player in the top 5 ranked outside the top 20 in approach, with winner, Otaegui ranking 1st and runner-up, Wallace, ranking 3rd. Whilst four of the top 5 also ranked top 21 on the greens, 4th place finisher Chris Paisley ranking 3rd and Otaegui combined the excellence in approach with a strong putting week, ranking 6th.

Fast forward to last year and we find further evidence of this as every player in the top 5 ranked in the top 20 in approach. Winner, Forrest ranked 8th, whilst 4th place finishers Calum hill and David Law ranked 9th and 2nd respectively. This replicated on the greens, with nobody ranking worse than 23rd. James Morrison the best putter of the top 5, ranking 4th, with Forest also combining the putter with his irons, much like Otaegui, ranking 13th.

A strong short-game has been on show in the two renewals too and with conditions looking potentially tricky, I think there could be more emphasis on that here this week. 

Key Stats: SG: Approach, SG: Putting, Birdie Average

Secondary Stats: Scrambling, SG: Around-the-Greens

 

Correlating Courses/Events

With just two events at Fairmont St Andrews, there isn’t a glut of form-ties on offer with other courses right now, though I have found some of interest. However any form in low scoring events and/or on exposed, generous driving courses should be seen as a positive.

Abu Dhabi Championship @ Abu Dhabi GC

Abu Dhabi Golf Club was host of the Abu Dhabi Championship up until this year. It’s an open, exposed course in which winning scores often reached the -20s.

We see both runners-up at Fairmont in the last two years, Matt Wallace and James Morrison possessing strong form there, with 7th and 6th place finishes respectively. Whilst 4th place finisher in 2020, Chris Paisley has a strong record in Abu Dhabi, recording finishes of 5th and 7th there. Jamie Donaldson, who has finished 9th and 34th in his two trips to the Torrance Course strengthens the form-ties further, as a past champion at Abu Dhabi GC. 

Portugal Masters @ Victoria Golf Course

The Portugal Masters at Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura is another event where scoring has typically been very low, also taking place on a largely exposed setup with wide fairways and large, quick greens.

Lucas Bjerregaard was 10th here in Scotland last year and possesses an excellent record in Portugal, where he’s won and been runner-up. Further form-ties are found from Paisley, who has two 5th place finishes in Portugal. Whilst Justin Walters, who has been 8th and 16th on two visits here and Matthew Jordan, who’s been 6th and 25th both possess strong form in Portugal, with Walters a two time runner-up and Jordan finishing 5th there.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Though taking place at genuine links courses in St Andrew’s Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship always dials down the difficulty due to the huge pro-am element of the event, meaning scoring is always low and  should act as a good guide to this event.

Form-lines are thin on the ground here, though Lucas Bjerregaard does appear again as also a past champion of the Dunhill Links. Whilst Matthew Jordan finished 5th in the Dunhill Links in 2019.

Qatar Masters

Further to this I once again like form at the Qatar Masters, with both courses working due to their open and exposed nature. Though scoring is often much tougher in this event because of the accompaniment of strong winds, when that dies down there has been plenty of low scoring renewals.

Adrian Otaegui has two top 10 finishes in Qatar, whilst we find Chris Paisley and Matthew Jordan again, both possessing top 10s. In addition to this, Marcus Armitage, who has finished 7th at Fairmont has a top 5 in Qatar and Jamie Donaldson finished 5th there last year.

Hillside Golf Club

Finally I’m going to finish with last week’s venue for the Cazoo Classic, Hillside Golf Club. Which also hosted the 2019 British Masters.

Despite only hosting a couple of events itself over recent years, some really strong form-ties have developed already courtesy of Grant Forrest and Matt Wallace, who have finished 3rd and 2nd at Hillside respectively. Whilst Santiago Tarrio, who has only played each course once, was 3rd at Fairmont last year and put up a strong 11th place finish at Hillside last week.

The Weather

As we saw with The Open in this part of the UK a couple of weeks ago, predicting the weather here is always tough, so everything has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Right now, the forecast is predicting plenty of rain throughout the event, particularly over the weekend. This should see us get a receptive course there to be attacked. Having said that, the predicted breeze is just about strong enough to make players think and if tasked with dealing with that and playing in the rain, we could see this course play a good deal tougher than it has previously. Which is the reason I also wanted to have some strong scramblers on side this week. 

The Field

Out goes Robert MacIntyre and in comes Ryan Fox as the highest ranked player in the field this week at #48. In addition there’s a little more depth in this week’s field, with the likes of Hurly Long returning from his two week stint stateside and we’re also joined by two top English amateurs in the shape of #7 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Sam Bairstow and #25 John Gough. 

Selections

Ryan Fox heads the market at 11/1. He’s been in incredible form on the DPWT this year and on an open course where he can let fly with his driver he looks a real danger. Though I’m not interested in him at the price.

This is the case for most at the top of the market for me this week. For all I like the chances of Romain Langasque, 25/1 about a player who has threatened but ultimately failed to truly contend just falls a little short of what I’d want. So I’m forced to go looking for value and start with Spain’s Jorge Campillo.

Golf odds
Jorge Campillo each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
50/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:05 Odds subject to change.

Campillo has enjoyed a year of great consistency so far but has stepped up his level of form over recent starts, with four of his best five finishes this season coming in his last seven starts.

The improved level of form started at the Soudal Open, with Campillo finishing 15th, following that with a 21st in the Dutch Open. He suffered a setback with a missed cut in European Open but bounced back right away, finishing 15th in the BMW International Open, before achieving his best finish of the year three starts ago, when finishing 7th in the Irish Open.

He only missed the cut by two in the star-studded Scottish Open and last week finished 52nd at Hillside, producing a rare recent poor performance on the greens.

The main reason for this better run of form has been the short-game, where Campillo has gained strokes around-the-greens on his last seven starts and ranks 36th on tour this season. Whilst he’s also gained with the putter in five of his last seven. 

Though the ball-striking has been a little more in and out, there has been enough quality throughout the year, where Campillo ranks 66th off-the-tee and 75th in approach. A level of all-round consistency that explains the consistency of his results this year and sees Campillo make plenty of birdies, ranking 42nd in birdie average.

Campillo played here last year, finishing a solid 34th, producing some quality approach play that I’m hoping he can reproduce this week. In addition is some strong correlating form, as Campillo is a past champion of the Qatar Masters, as well as possessing top 10s in Portugal and Abu Dhabi.

There’s a lot to like about Campillo this week. He’s showing his best form at this point of the year and as well as being able to make enough birdies if this does play as easy as the last two years, he’s also producing a current level of quality in the short-game that should see him manage well if the conditions make this a little trickier than previous.

Eddie Pepperell each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
55/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:05 Odds subject to change.

Despite narrowly missing out on a place with Eddie Pepperell last week, I was buoyed to see him produce his best performance of the year so far and at a place where he went well on debut, finishing 16th in 2020, I’m expecting him to kick on from there this week.

Eddie started well last week, opening with a 68 and if it wasn’t for a disappointing 74 in round two, he’d have been a real player in the final round, shooting rounds of 68 and 69 over the weekend. Still threatening to get involved on Sunday, before giving a couple of shots back on the back 9.

That finish was engineered by a best of the year ball-striking performance from Pepperell, that saw him rank 3rd in approach and 22nd off-the-tee. With the time off seemingly giving him the chance to bed in his new clubs. He gained strokes in every round in the two areas besides that second round, where every part of his game was off.

This result had been coming, as Pepperell had been showing some more positive signs in recent starts, from his 14th place finish in the Dutch Open five starts ago and even across the missed cuts in Germany and Ireland, there was quality in every area on show.

If able to put it all together this week, not only on a course in which he has form but that correlates nicely with some of his stronger performances on tour, such as winning the Qatar Masters and finishing 2nd at Portugal and Hillside, I fancy Pepperell to get himself well into the mix come Sunday.

Andy Sullivan each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
55/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:10 Odds subject to change.

Andy Sullivan is another Englishman with proven winning ability who showed a return to form last week at Hillside and I’m hoping he can carry momentum over from there to kick-off a strong end to the year.

Sullivan’s poor form this year has been a continuation of a disappointing second half to last year, excluding him signing off 2021 with a 4th place finish in Dubai.

It took him ten starts to record a top 10, missing six of his first nine cuts. Quite simply, after being one of the best ball-strikers on tour from 2019-2020, his long game had fallen off a cliff. Though there has been signs of improvements in recent weeks, particularly with the driver.

Sullivan started to drive the ball well at the European Open, despite missing the cut and followed that by gaining strokes on his next three starts off-the-tee, his best run of driving this year and though he dropped off a little last week, there was nothing seriously amiss. 

Improvements in his iron-play have been less obvious though it has been there. Starting with a good performance six starts ago in the Dutch Open, despite missing the cut and though he lost strokes marginally overall last week, I was taken by the fact he gained strokes in approach in both rounds over the weekend, including the third round which was one of his best approach performances of the last 12 months. 

Whilst the ball-striking had completely gone, his short-game has remained much more positive, seeing Sullivan rank 54th around-the-greens, 67th in scrambling and 85th on the greens. This was well on show in his 8th place finish last week, where Sullivan ranked 15th around-the-greens, 16th in scrambling and 11th in putting.

He finished 48th here last year, round about the time his form started to really fall off. I’m confident he can go better this week as a past winner in Portugal, as well as possessing top 10s in Qatar and indeed Hillside last week. 

If Sullivan can continue the better iron-play he produced over the weekend last week and if able to combine it with the quality he’s been showing with the short-game, he can take another step in the right direction at Fairmont. 

Brandon Stone each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
55/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:10 Odds subject to change.

With some good recent form in the bag where every part of his game has fired at some point and going well on his only visit here in 2020, when he finished 16th, I felt Brandon Stone looked good value this week in a part of the world he picked up his biggest win to date, when taking home the 2018 Scottish Open.

Stone made a solid start to 2022, making five of his first six cuts of the year, though hit a flat spot from the end of March to the end of May. However he’s rectified that over recent starts, in which he’s also produced his two best finishes of the year.

The best of those was a 5th place finish in the Porsche European Open in Germany, where Stone showed quality across the board, though excelled in approach and around-the-greens. He followed that by finishing 15th in the BMW International Open, his quality short-game once again on show, this time combined with a strong driving performance. 

We’ve most recently seen him finish 46th in the Irish Open, where he putted well but the tee-to-green game was off and last time out he only missed the cut by one shot in the star-studded Scottish Open, where he reversed his performance from the Irish Open, with his tee-to-green game firing but falling short on the greens. That means that over those last four starts, Stone has gained strokes in every area at least twice.

Stone excels off-the-tee overall, ranking 32nd, possessing plenty of power and combined with a solid short-game where he ranks 78th around-the-greens, he should be able to take it to these drivable par 4s and reachable par 5s. Combined with the recent strong performances in approach and on the greens, he looks ideal for this week.

This was certainly the case on his only visit here in 2020, where he finished 16th thanks to an excellent performance on the greens. He also possesses good form at a number of correlating courses, with a strong record in Portugal where he’s finished 2nd, a 7th place finish in Qatar and has a good record in the Dunhill Links, finishing 11th and 15th there in the past.

Stone is a proven winner at this level with three DPWT titles to his name. Showing some strong recent form where all of his game has fired and going well here on his only visit, he looks a big price to go well this week.

Frederic LaCroix each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
80/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:10 Odds subject to change.

France’s Frederic LaCroix gained his DPWT card thanks to a really strong finish to his year on the Challenge Tour in 2021, finishing top 5 in four of his last five starts of the year. Despite a slow start to his first year on the DPWT he’s started to find his feet over recent months and can put up another good showing this week.

Following a run of four missed cuts, LaCroix turned his year around with a 21st place finish at The Belfry in the British Masters. Since then he’s only missed two cuts in six and recorded his best finish of the year so far, when 10th in the BMW International Open three starts ago. 

This improved form has come from general improvements across the board, where he’s gained strokes in six of his last seven starts in approach, five of his last seven in putting and his last four starts around-the-greens. He will need to be forgiven an off week last week, though that is easy to do for a player who managed to make the cut, finishing 56th whilst not having his best stuff. 

His biggest weakness appears to be the driver, where he can be a little erratic, though that’s not a concern here with these generous fairways and as a player who ranks 37th on tour in birdie average this season, he makes more than enough birdies to contend in this event. 

LaCroix has plenty of winning form in the bag at a lower level, winning three times on the Alps tour in 2019 in his first year as a pro, which came following a strong amateur career where he ranked top 50 in the world. I’m always taken by players who show this kind of relentless winning ability at a lower level and showing himself to be a potentially high-class approach player, I think he’s going to make a name for himself on the DPWT in the future. Hopefully he can give us the best evidence of that yet, this week at Fairmont.

Alfie Plant each-way (1/5 10 places)
250/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:10 Odds subject to change.
Alfie Plant Top 20 finish
11/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-26 17:15 Odds subject to change.

I considered both of the young English amateurs mentioned above, particularly John Gough at a huge 500/1, though instead I’m going to go back in on Alfie Plant who produced a good 29th place finish last week, looking like he may threaten that top 20 throughout the week and coming here at the same price appeals plenty.

Most appealing about Plant was the fact he was coming into his best form over the weekend, shooting rounds of 69 in round three and 70 in round four, 5 shots better overall than his first two rounds combined. This down to improving in every aspect of his game as the week went on, particularly in approach and putting, as he produced quality around-the-greens throughout every round, ranking 11th in the field. Something that may become quite important this week.

Plant hasn’t played here, though as mentioned last week his win four starts ago on the Challenge Tour came in the Open de Bretagne, taking place on an open, exposed links like course. As well as plenty of strong amateur form in the UK, which includes being a winner of the Lytham Trophy. This was also the case for last year’s winner here, Grant Forrest, who has victories in the Scottish Amateur and St Andrews Links Trophy amongst his amateur successes.

Last week was Plant’s second start on the DPWT this year and he’s made the cut in both. With every part of his game improving over the weekend he should come into this with plenty of confidence and can improve on his 29th place finish last week. 

Golf betting tips
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