By News Team
7th July 2021
US Open champion and world number one John Rahm is the headline act, while the likes of Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa have jetted over from America to fine tune their games ahead of Royal St George’s in a week’s time.
With four of the top five in the world in attendance, this should be a cracker and here’s our preview.
Hatton the flavour of the week in Scotland
While Tyrrell Hatton is still trying to find the formula to contend in Majors, his record at this kind of level is very strong. He has won three of the past eight Rolex Series – the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open, the 2020 BMW PGA Championship and the 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – and if you throw in the 2017 Italian Open, it’s clear he thrives at just below the peak of the game.
He can also boast a very strong record in Scotland which has seen him win two Dunhill Links titles, three top-10s in this event as well as a tie for fifth in the 2016 Open when played at Royal Troon. He didn’t play in this event in 2020, but finished 14th in 2019 – a result that can be marked up given he was only one-under after the first round, which left him far too much work to do.
The Englishman has been battling an unruly putter recently, which probably cost him the title at the Palmetto Championship, while it was the club that was a big reason for a missed cut at the US Open. And while that might appear as negative, he has shown in the past he can shake off a missed cut in style. In 2020, he failed to make the weekend at the US Open, but bounced back to dominate the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He should be right up for this and looks poised for a bold showing at 18/1.
Thomas’ putting might just have turned the corner
If you look through Justin Thomas’ stats on the PGA Tour this season, there is a pretty clear reason he’s only won once – his putting. The American ranks outside of the top 100 on the greens in 2021 and it’s an issue which has really blighted his game so far this year. Granted, he ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach, so he’s giving himself more chances than the average player, but he’s clearly not taking advantage of the number of looks he’s giving himself. There have, however, been signs that the flat stick might slowly be starting to behave itself. He’s gained shots on the field on the greens in three of his last six events and was ranked 20th in Strokes Gained: Putting at the US Open – his best performance since October last year.
Thomas struggled to get the hang of Links golf at first with two missed cuts in his first three Opens, but he did finish in a tie for 11th at the Royal Portrush in 2019, where he looked a real danger at one point. He’s no stranger to the Renaissance Club either having played here in 2019, where he finished in a tie for ninth. He might have got closer to the winner, Bernd Wiesberger, too had it not been for a turgid one-under par 70 in round three.
Plenty of birdies are expected this week, so putting is going to be important, but if JT can get the putter working, the rest of his game is in a good enough shape for him to be a real challenger at 18/1.