Final round preview of Genesis Scottish Open

Martin Mathews previews the final round of the Scottish Open as the field looks to chase down an in-form Xander Schauffele, with 12/1 and 150/1 selections advised.

We’ve become accustomed over recent years to seeing the top players in the game hit a purple patch where everything clicks for a month or two and with high confidence they post two, three or even more wins in quick succession.

The most recent example of this came from world number one Scottie Scheffler earlier this year and it may just be we are now witnessing something similar from the current world number 11 Xander Schauffele.

Although Schauffele had of course won before, the lack of a solo title on the PGA Tour since his win at the Sentry ToC in 2019 had clearly been weighing on him however closing out the Travelers Championship from the front on his most recent start appears to have done wonders for him.

As a result after a week off he has come straight back out, picked up the trophy at the high quality JP McManus Pro-Am earlier this week and now finds himself in pole position to land his second PGA Tour title in consecutive starts.

The Californian opened up this week with a low key 72 however he put the afterburners on in tricky blustery conditions on Friday to post 65 and then backed it up with a 66 on Saturday, all of which is good enough for a 7- under total and a two shot lead heading in to Sunday.

With Schauffele then having shown at the Travelers that he can close out from the front, something he had failed to do on his four previous opportunities and with his confidence flying high one would think then that he is a shoo-in to add another trophy to his cabinet here, something reflected in the odds on quotes available. Back to back bogeys to close round three however have opened the door for the field and with Schauffele having shown plenty of nerves still at TPC River Highlands before Theegala’s double bogey on 18 gifted him the win I am not convinced that this will be a stroll to victory.

Having I am going to take Schauffele on then the obvious player decided to do so with would be Jordan Spieth who matched the leaders 66 to vault himself up the leaderboard on Saturday. As we know though the week before a Major more often than not tends to throw up a less heralded winner and with Spieth blowing hot and cold with his putter this week I will instead take a chance on another Jordan. jordan smith who unlike the games biggest names will be a 100% focused on bagging a long overdue second DP World Tour win rather than having one eye on what lies ahead next week.

Smith who’s lone tour win came back in 2017 has been in really solid form this season missing only one cut all year, however he continues to frustrate on Sunday’s, most recently with final day efforts of 72 on both occasions when right in the mix at the BMW International and the Porsche European Open.

Starting here though on 4- under, three back and in a tie for third place Smith grabs me as the one player in the top half dozen on the leaderboard who as mentioned already will not be already looking down the road to St Andrews, but equally unlike Rafa Cabrera Bello who starts on 5- under in second place or Ryan Palmer who is along side Smith on 4- under is already exempt for the Open, meaning he can play with relative freedom.

As we saw then with Schauffele at The Travelers if you put yourself in the mix enough times the chips will roll your way and with three each way places on offer I am happy to take a chance that it’s the Englishman’s time again.

At 5- under former champion of this event Cabrera Bello will get to keep Schauffele company on Sunday and it is naturally possible that memories of that previous win will spur him on to great things again, however the Spaniard admitted in his post round interview on Saturday that his long game is still work in progress and if you add that to the pressure of playing in the final pairing and trying to bag his St Andrews spot he is not for me. Similarly Palmer who was fourth here last year but is winless on a solo basis in over 12yrs is hard to fancy and again a place in the Open will probably be an acceptable day for him.

A shot further back on 3-under we have the trio of Matt Fitzpatrick, Alex Smalley and 36 hole leader Cameron Tringale. Fitzpatrick naturally could produce something special however I again suspect a top ten here will be deemed more than acceptable in his first start since Brookline and with Tringale looking set to be the bridesmaid once more it may be of these three the talented PGA Tour rookie Smalley makes the biggest charge. Again though with a place in the Open on the line this will surely be his main focus on him.

Instead then for a second pick and to small stakes I will take a flyer on the hugely talented Korean Joo-hyung Kim who starts back on 2-under and two shots out of third place.

A four time winner across the Asian and Korean Tours already the sky is the limit for this hugely talented 20yr old and he showed just a few weeks ago when finishing 23rd at the US Open that he can compete at the highest level.

Available here then at decent three figure odds I will take a roll of the dice that with a place at next weeks Open already in the bag he can produce something special here and make the frame.

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