Scottish Open First Round Leader Picks, Bets & More (2024)

We have the tune-ups to top all other tune-ups as the top 150 players in the world — minus LIV — get a head start for the Open Championship. That begins this weekend with the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club. The top 75 players on the PGA Tour will meet and compete with the top 75 DP players in the world. The field is full of both big names (outside of Scottie Scheffler) and blind spots trying to effectively handicap players with no tour data. There’s always how that golfer has fared at this course, but even course history leaves a little out of what someone is currently doing. We have some great value spots for Scottish Open first-round leader bets as we move to a true links course in Scotland.

The week is entirely dependent upon the weather. If the conditions are beautiful, open and sunny — then expect someone to clear -20 to win this event. On the other hand, we saw a winning score of -7 when the elements weren’t cooperating. We want golfers who know how to handle the mess even if it’s not expected on Thursday. Winds change and shift often at this course, and just having the right club or shot in the bag is key.

This is a loaded field, which also gives us some buy low spots for struggling golfers. Be it the conditions or just familiarity with how to play them on a links course, there are some surprising numbers next to some winners on tour, including major champions.

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Scottish Open First Round Leader Picks

The Keys To The Kingdom

Links golf is certainly a departure from what we’ve seen predominantly so far on tour. There are necessary strategies in attacking this course, primarily lower drives to combat the wind. Again, this is all assuming there will be at least a small amount of wind — possibly wet conditions — in the way of these golfers. There’s also a sense of keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible. This means we want smart golfers who choose to putt instead of chip and know the importance of a bump-and-run shot — more often than not.

We will see Rory McIlroy, so that’s cool. He dipped out of Pinehurst after losing in gut-wrenching fashion, only to return to the public eye to defend his Scottish Open championship. The field will not be easy; one notable absence is Patrick Cantlay for the second straight week. This is a longer course that plays a tad under the 7,237 total yardage. The greens are the primary defense outside of the elements. This puts an incredible emphasis on short-game golfers, from approach to around the green, concluding with putting.

Scottish Open First-Round Leader Picks

Scottish Open First Round Leader Picks: Byeong Hun An (+5500 at DraftKings)

We were burned going down a bad road last week and have since learned our lesson. Instead, we find ourselves embracing an old friend who has respected our coin, cashing multiple times for us on Discord. Byeong Hun An is our top first-round leader play mostly because of two key metrics. He was on a nice stretch before the US Open, with a fourth at the Byron Nelson and third at the Wells Fargo. He added a 22nd at the Memorial before the wheels fell off at Pinehurst. We don’t anticipate An losing over two strokes on the green, especially on this links course.

There are two main areas where he’s distanced himself from the majority of the field. The first is driving distance, not just with the driver but overall distance he’s getting off tee shots. He’s in the top 10 of this field when it comes to gaining distance off the tee, which will help on the getable par 5’s and longer par 4’s playing 450-plus from the box. An also has course history behind him, but more importantly, he has recent history. He’s one of five players in the field with multiple top-10s over the past two years, which is notable because that’s the running length of the co-sponsored event. We love An to do what he does well: Start strong and hold a lead. He’s going to be a top-20 play for me without a doubt and a top-10 first round to add. I love him here too.

Scottish Open First Round Leader Picks: Keith Mitchell (+7000 at DraftKings)

Am I supposed to just ignore how great of a fit Keith Mitchell is for this event simply because he’s let us down before? How can anyone gloss over where Mitchell is right now relative to the field and how well he’s been playing? Like An above, Mitchell is in the top 10 of this field in overall driving distance. But wait, there’s much more. Length is great, as is playing through the wind and difficult conditions, but ultimately second shots setting up birdies are key. Mitchell is right at the top of the field in strokes gained on approach shots.

He’s playing solid golf over his last 15-plus rounds, which shows up in him being top 10 once again in this field, this time in strokes gained tee to green. We can keep going down the list. How about overall strokes gained off the tee, where Mitchell is once again a top performer compared to the field?

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