The PGA TOUR heads over to Scotland this week for a unique test. As part of the alliance between the PGA TOUR and the DP WORLD TOUR (formally the European Tour), the Scottish Open has become an official part of the PGA TOUR’s schedule and this year will mark the second year in a row that it has been an official PGA TOUR event. This co-sanctioned event will again feature the top 75 players, from each TOUR, with a few special exemptions mixed in to make up a field of 156 golfers.
With the Open Championship next week, a lot of the top players have decided to come over early for extra preparation. As of now, the field is expected to be even stronger than last year as most of the top players see the value in getting some extra links practice prior to the last major. The only big name to skip this week? Jon Rahm, who opted for rest over the extra practice.
One final note on the event, three remaining spots to qualify for the Open Championship are up for grabs this week for players not already qualified. The top three non-qualified players will get spots into the Open but must also finish inside the top 10 of the event to qualify.
As for DFS, the cut line and cut rules remain the same, with the top 65 and ties after Friday getting to play the weekend.
The Renaissance Club — par 70, 7,237 yards
North Berwick, Scotland
The Renaissance Club will host the Scottish Open for the fifth year in a row. The venue was created back in 2007 by Tom Doak and sits on the peninsula just outside Edinborough and in close proximity to some other famous Scottish Links courses. The course is close enough to the sea that any poor weather coming in will wreak havoc with the scores and you can tell just by looking at the winners here over the past five seasons just how vastly conditions can change at the Renassaince based on conditions.
2022 saw Cameron Tringale open with a 61 at this relatively simple setup but that 10-under opening round was blown away by poor weather. Trinagale and the field struggled afterward and the winner ended up getting into the clubhouse at 7-under par.
That 2022 result is in stark contrast to what we saw in 2019 on the first year this event was hosted by the Renaissance when former DP World Tour grinder Bernd Weisberger was able to dismantle the course to the tune of 22-under par. Weisberger is a solid iron player when he’s on but to see him get that low allows you to understand what the PGA pros may be capable of at this venue if they get calm conditions.
The course itself is a traditional links setup with fescue greens and hard fairways that will require intelligent decision-making. Your ball can roll a lot here and that’s helped shorter hitters like Trinagale and Weisberger when the wind is down. Despite it being a par 71 there are four par 5s and while they do have quirky large greens, they are still very short holes for the pros and will yield a ton of birdies (again, as long as it’s not super windy).
One of the most interesting wrinkles of this course is the fact that while there are four par 5s, there are also five par 3s, meaning par 4s make up only half the course. The par 3s tend to play as some of the most difficult on the course and three stretch over 200 yards, making ball striking extremely vital here when the wind is up. Last year, winner Xander Schauffele was striking his irons better than perhaps anyone on the PGA (he had won two weeks prior) and gained 5.7 strokes on approach alone at the Renaissance in 2022.
The venue sits right on the coastline of the North Sea, which means it’s always at risk of being affected by heavy winds or rain. How it will play in 2023 is unknown but here’s some insight from the designer as to what to expect:
“The windier and firmer it is, the more ball-striking plays a premium,” Doak says. “If it’s soft, it becomes more of a putting contest, and that’s not what the best players want to see. There are a few greens with some really tricky short-game shots – the back pin on the 18th is one, but more of them are on the front nine, as well as the shots around the 10th and 11th greens.”
Look for approach games and short games to be tested this week, especially going into the weekend when the wind is expected to pick up. This will be a fun event, but also one where experience on links courses will matter.
2023 Outlook: Windfinder will be a popular site to visit this week and next. As of now, the wind on the first day looks like it will be constant, with gusts in the 10-15mph range throughout the day. It doesn’t look like things will get too much worse in the p.m. on Thursday and temperatures will be in the 60-70 F most of the day as well. Friday a.m. may be the wave to target as it looks like the wind will die down for a few hours before picking back up in the p.m. Some rain and winds in the 12-15 mph range are expected Friday after 1:00 p.m. and the people who start early may be able to gain a decent edge. It’s early and this forecast could change in an instant, so be sure to check the forecast again Wednesday before locking in anything final based on the weather.
Last 4 winners
*The last three iterations of the Scottish Open were played at The Renaissance Club, the site of this year’s Scottish Open
2022—Xander Schauffele -7 (over Kurt Kitayama -6)
2021—Min Woo Lee -18 (over Thomas Detry and Matthew Fitzpatrick playoff)
2020—Aaron Rai -11 (over Tommy Fleetwood playoff)
2018—Bernd Wiesberger -22 (over Benjamin Hebert playoff)
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2022 Winner: Xander Schauffele (18-under par)
2022 lead-in form (win-T14-T18)
- Like many of the past winners at this event, Schauffele was coming in off the back of some fantastic form, having won two weeks prior at the Travelers.
- The American was solid everywhere but particularly lethal with his ball control, which is a hugely important part of success on a course like the Renaissance when it’s windy.
- It’s worth noting that each of the past four winners had all played well in their start directly prior to winning this event. Min Woo Lee placed in the top 20 the week prior in Ireland and Aaron Rai, who won this event in 2020, finished second at the same event before winning.
- Ultimately, we want players flashing good form but elite iron play really needs to be emphasized given the fact players will likely see at least some harsh conditions before the week ends.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Tyrrell Hatton +2000 and $9,600
- Matthew Fitzpatrick +2200 and $9,800
- Viktor Hovland +1800 and $9,700
All odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change
1. Rickie Fowler ($9,500; win - T13): Fowler comes in with major swag after posting a win in his last start in Detroit. Ranked third in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50-rounds he’s trending eerily similar to last year’s winner of this event, Xander Schauffele.
2. Scottie Scheffler ($11,600; T4-3rd): Scheffler finished top five in his last start — take a drink. The American has an insane six top-five finishes in a row now (but remains winless since March). He missed the cut in Scotland last year but seems destined for a better finish this year.
3. Ludvig Aberg ($8,200; T4-T40): Aberg is coming off his best week as a pro after a T4 at the John Deere last week. The big hitter was far more consistent with his irons last week and if that trend continues, he’s going to be walking home a winner at some point soon.
4. Alex Smalley ($7,900; T2-T47-T9): Smalley finished T2 last week and has been on fire with his irons of late. We’re heading into a more elite field but given how well he’s striking it, don’t be shocked if he keeps tearing it up this week as well.
5. Aaron Rai ($7,800; T9-T24): Rai is a former winner at the Renaissance Club, grabbing the title here in 2020. He ranks 8th in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50 rounds and was top 10 his last time out at the Rocket.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Fowler and Fleetwood, a solid combo
It may seem crazy to talk about Rickie Fowler ($9,500) winning back-to-back events (after he didn't win for over four years) but he is playing extremely high-end golf right now. He’s ranked third in approach play over the last 50 rounds and he’s third in overall par 3 efficiency over the last 50 rounds, which never hurts on a course where there are five par 3s of varying length in play. It’s a very similar story for Tommy Fleetwood ($9,400), who doesn’t quite have Fowler’s recent form to go off but remains in top form after posting a top-five finish at the US Open. Fleetwood lost in a playoff at this venue in 2020 and has gained multiple strokes on approach now in five of his last seven starts. For a balanced build, Corey Conners ($8,100), Adam Scott ($8,000), and Ludvig Aberg ($8,200) all look like great targets for this format.
Tournaments: Don’t ignore expensive Scheffler
There will likely be some trepidation about using Scottie Scheffler ($11,600) this week, given that he missed the cut at this venue last season. Realistically, any kind of ownership dump on Scheffler at this point should be bought up quickly. The man is gaining strokes on approach at an obscene rate and good long iron play is ultimately what allowed Xander Schauffele to win here last season. Further down, don’t overlook a player like Seamus Power ($7,500) on this type of course either. He’s got putting upside to spare and played well in all facets last week at the Deere. Some other potential targets for this format include Robert Macintyre ($7,400), Alex Bjork ($7,300), Byeong Hun An ($7,200), and Tom McKibbon ($6,400).
MY PICK: Patrick Cantlay ($10,200)
Cantlay has grabbed five top-10 finishes since the beginning of February and has been rock solid across the board for much of the year. He ranks third in strokes gained ball-striking over the last 50-rounds and has seen his putter come to life of late, as well, gaining 7.9 strokes alone with that club at the US Open. Despite the gaudy stats and some great finishes, he’s yet to cash in for a win in 2023 but looks primed to change that fact soon.
Cantlay’s had trouble at times with more rugged US Open and PGA TOUR venues where brute strength often triumphs over skill but he’s been at home on some of the world’s best coastal tracks, posting a runner-up at Pebble Beach in 2020 and multiple runner-ups at Harbour Town Golf Links. Last season he came to the shortish, coastal links course that is the Renaissance Club and promptly posted an impressive T4 in tough conditions. Coming in this season off a T4 at the Travelers, there is no reason to think that he can’t improve on that mark and potentially cash in for a well-deserved win.
For daily fantasy golf purposes, starting lineups with him at $10,200 means you can still build balanced if you like and he also makes for a terrific outright and top 10 target on the DraftKings Sportsbook as well.
MY SLEEPER: Alex Noren ($7,200)
It’s been a mostly forgettable season for Noren, who ranks 108th in the FedEx standings and has missed more cuts than he’s made in 2023. A notorious grinder and perfectionist, it does appear like there could be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Swede who put up his best result of the year in his last start, posting a T9 in Detroit at the Rocket Mortgage. That result looks even better when you consider it came off the back of stellar iron play, an area of Noren’s game that has been lacking all season.
Noren is always capable of bringing a big week out of the back due to his still elite putting and short game but when you pair it with good ball-striking, he becomes a serious danger on certain venues and this week’s links test should be right up his alley. A former winner of the Scottish Open in 2016, this venue has seen shorter hitters like Aaron Rai prosper in the past and a slightly calmer version of the Renaissance Club may allow him to attack the venue much like Bernd Weisberger, another long-time Euro Tour regular, did in 2019.
Noren’s cheap enough to use as a boom-or-bust DFS play in bigger fields and for betting, the links venue makes him a solid top 10/20 target at +330/850 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skills and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.