Golf Lowdowns: McIlroy the tight favourite at Alfred Dunhill Links

Séamus Power the lone Irish representative at the Sanderson Farms Championship

Alfred Dunhill Links

Purse: €5.25 million (€750,000 to the winner)

Where: Fife, Scotland

The courses: St Andrews (Old Course) – 7,318 yards Par 72; Carnoustie – 7,394 yards Par 72; Kingsbarns7,227 yards Par 72 – are the three traditional host links of the championship. Both the Old Course and Carnoustie are on the Open rota but the challenge is notably different at this time of year with cooler temperatures and less firm fairways. The Old Course is the only links used for Sunday’s final round.


The field: As usual, a strong one headlined by Europe’s top guns. Rory McIlroy, the world number two, is back on the DP World Tour for one of his favourite events (playing in the team section with his father Gerry) while US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and recent BMW PGA winner Shane Lowry are also back on familiar seaside terrain.

Quote-Unquote: “You’ve got to get a little bit lucky in terms of where you draw and on which days if it’s windy or rainy or whatever it is, there’s always that element to it . . . basically, you’ve got to come in with the mindset that it’s going to be rubbish, the weather.” Defending champion Danny Willett on factoring in the weather gods.

Irish in the field: Just four Irish players (there were seven last year) this time: Rory McIlroy is paired with Nicolai Hojgaard (off the 10th at Carnoustie, 9.00am); Shane Lowry is paired with Rasmus Hojgaard (off the 10th at Carnoustie, 9.11am); Pádraig Harrington is paired with Victor Perez (off the 10th at Carnoustie, 10.50am); Jonny Caldwell is paired with Martin Vorster (off the 10th at Kingsbarns, 11.01am).

Betting: Rory McIlroy is a tight 7/2 favourite in the market with Matt Fitzpatrick (10/1), Shane Lowry (11/1) and two-time winner Tyrrell Hatton at 14/1. French Open winner Guido Migliozzi looks decent each-way value at 50s while Pádraig Harrington is worth a sneaky each-way look at 66/1.

On TV: Live on Sky Sports (coverage from 12pm)

Sanderson Farms Championship

Purse: €8.25 million (€1.45m to the winner)

Where: Jackson, Mississippi

The course: The Country Club of Jackson – 7,461 Par 72 – dates back to 1914 but underwent a substantial redesign in 2008 at the hands of architect John Fought, who incorporated many Donald Ross elements including his trademark small, undulating greens.

The field: A lot of the world’s top-ranked players are taking a break and just two players from last week’s Presidents Cup – Sam Burns, the defending champion, and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout – are playing. There are a large number of Korn Ferry graduates looking to get early points in the bag, with Justin Suh aiming to continue that KF form of last season.

Quote-Unquote: “These greens might be some of the best on tour, they’re running 13s already and they’re glass and so pure. I feel like I see the lines on the putts really well” – Sahith Theegala, the 54-hole leader a year ago, on his liking for the fast greens at Jackson.

Irish in the field: Séamus Power is the lone Irish player in the field and tees off the 10th in a group with Harris English and Gary Woodland (1.44pm Irish time).

Betting: Unsurprisingly, Sam Burns, the world number 12 and defending champion, is a red hot favourite at 9/1 with Sahith Theegala rated an 18/1 prospect. Séamus Power is priced at 33/3. There would seem to be some decent each-way value in the market and Trey Mullax (33/1) and Justin Suh (40/1) are worth a look.

On TV: Live on Sky Sports Golf (live coverage from 8.30pm, featured groups on red button from 1pm).

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times