Genesis Scottish Open Predictions: Conservative/Aggressive Plays for Every Type of Bettor

min read
Tommy Fleetwood, of England, smiles as he walks the fairway on the 13th hole during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Cromwell, Conn.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelGolf Jul 09, 2024, 11:38 AM
  • The Genesis Scottish Open is July 11-14, the week before the Open Championship.
  • This could be the week Tommy Fleetwood finally gets his first outright win.
  • Why Tom Kim is worth a look to be the first-round leader.

We’ve finally reached the point in the annual calendar which feels like professional golf’s version of the Family Guy crossover episode with The Simpsons – or for the readers from a previous generation, when the Flintstones met the Jetsons. Or, I suppose, when the kids from Scooby-Doo curiously converged with members of the Harlem Globetrotters.

But I digress…

The point is, the PGA Tour’s best players are taking an overseas summer field trip for the next two weeks, kicking things off with the Genesis Scottish Open before The Open Championship, as fans are treated to the usual suspects teeing it up on foreign linkslands amongst khaki-hued backdrops and – fingers crossed! – steady rains slashing sideways from the heavens.

That doesn’t include Scottie Scheffler, who will eschew the first week in favor of more time at home to prep for next week’s major. Which, of course, helps the prognostication process, as we neither have to play the No. 1-ranked player at a short number, nor fade him at our own peril. 

Let’s get to those who are playing, with a massive lean toward experience on links-style courses over everything else.

Genesis Scottish Open Outright Picks

Conservative: Tommy Fleetwood (+1800)

As long as a professional golfer is still breathing, there’s no such thing as “now or never,” but I do feel like if we’ve been waiting for the most special (non-Ryder Cup) moment of Tommy Fleetwood’s career, there might not be a better chance for it to happen than during the impending fortnight. 

Fleetwood famously owns seven victories on the DP World Tour and just as many top-five results in major championships, but his success has largely stopped at extreme high-level consistency, leaving him with a reputation as something between a lovable loser, and a guy who lacks that extra gear down the stretch. Of course, as golf has so often taught us over the years, there’s a certain karmic law of averages that tends to even things out in the long run. 

All of which suggests that Fleetwood might not be the ideal “conservative” selection, but he’s undeniably capable of winning a tournament of this – or even next week’s – magnitude while reminding us that “favorite outright” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “pick to win.” 

The Englishman enters this one in fine form, with finishes of 26th or better in eight of his last nine starts, and he’s gone T-4 and T-6 in his last two appearances at this one. That’s exactly the type of convergence we’re so often seeking. If you’re the type who believes either that Fleetwood just doesn’t have what it takes to ever break through or that past performances are always indicators of future success, then skip right over this one. 

If you, though, like me, believe that trends shift and karma exists and just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future, then take a good, hard look at Tommy over the next few weeks, which could wind up being the most important events of his lengthy career.

Aggressive: Ryan Fox (+8000)

There are specific demarcation points in the golf calendar when recent performance counts less than it usually does. Like the beginning of the year in Hawaii, for instance, since those “recent” results aren’t really too recent anyway. Or at the start of the Florida Swing, when a shift from the West Coast also means a shift to completely different host venues. 

This week, however, might be the perfect example of this idea. Quite frankly, I don’t really care if a player fared poorly at Detroit GC or TPC Deere Run or anywhere else, since The Renaissance Club is a links course that won’t play anything like any other recent hosts. That brings me to Fox, who isn’t exactly playing poorly, with three top-20s in his last seven starts across two different tours, but hasn’t been tearing it up, either. 

On links tracks, though, the New Zealand native receives a massive boost. He won at Wentworth last year, took the Dunhill Links two years ago (and was solo second last year), has twice triumphed at the Irish Open, and – oh, by the way – was T-12 at this event last summer.

I love Fox as a value play with a legit chance to win outright this week and similarly think he makes for a smart selection across the board on various finishing position plays.

Genesis Scottish Open Top-5 Picks

Conservative: Rory McIlroy (+160)

The last time golf “experts” — and yes, I include myself among those who need the proverbial quotation marks there — were generally in unison regarding a potential result, we all – again, myself included – believed Scottie Scheffler was something close to a lock to win the U.S. Open. That, uh, didn’t happen. Instead, it was McIlroy who came agonizingly close, losing to Bryson DeChambeau after missing short putts on two of the final three holes. 

In the aftermath, I’ve heard plenty of us “experts” maintain that this loss will leave plenty of scar tissue for Rory, who is on the verge of 10 years without a major, perhaps leading to a post-choke hangover that could linger for a while. I’m more inclined to zig while everyone else zags here, going against popular opinion. 

I don’t know that he’s going to win either of these next two events, but this week’s defending champion has dealt with plenty of heartache during his career and should be able to deal with this one. He’s been trending in the right direction and after three weeks off, it’s tough to believe he’ll still be in a bad place mentally when he tees it up Thursday. If Rory is a stock, I’ll buy the dip when others continue to sell.

Aggressive: Min Woo Lee (+500)

Here’s a fun little brain-teaser for your friends at the 19th hole: Lee has never won a PGA Tour title and yet, he’s won this tournament, which is indeed a PGA Tour event. Alright, so it’s not exactly two trains traveling in opposite directions at different speeds, but it can be a little tough to wrap your mind around this concept if you’re not paying full attention. 

This tourney only became a PGA Tour staple two years ago; Min Woo won three years ago, defeating Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Detry in a playoff. Since then, he’s only gone MC-35th, but a share of runner-up honors at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in his most recent start should have him bringing some good vibes back to this one, where his low stinger off the tee should play nicely throughout the week.

Genesis Scottish Open Top-10 Picks

Conservative: Viktor Hovland (+200)

Raise your hand if you’ve got Hovland figured out because I certainly don’t. During the PGA Championship, he revealed to me during a post-round interview on Saturday evening that he considered not even playing since he’d been playing so poorly beforehand. Well, he wound up finishing solo third.

A few weeks later, he claimed a T-15 in his title defense at the Memorial Tournament, which might’ve been enough to convince you that his Valhalla performance wasn’t a one-off outlier. And then, of course, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open. That was followed by a T-20 in a limited field at the Travelers Championship, which might’ve been just as befuddling in that it wasn’t really good, but wasn’t bad, either.

And now, well, here we are. I don’t have the full confidence in Hovland that I probably need for a short-priced conservative top-10 play, but I do like the idea of backing him before he gets hot, as opposed to when it’s too late. Finishes of 13th or better in each of the last three editions of The Open suggest his short game should thrive on courses without thick rough bordering the greens.

Aggressive: Matt Wallace (+800)

Once again, I’m banking on links experience over everything else here. Wallace might not be the best example of this, but he’s at least one in a long line of European players who’s dealt with a weighty Catch-22 in professional golf: He was good enough on the DP World Tour that he qualified for PGA Tour life, but he’s largely found that U.S.-based courses don’t suit his game as much, so he hasn’t enjoyed the same success that he’s had closer to home. 

Not that it’s been a failure by any means – he won last year’s Corales Puntacana Championship and finished T-3 at the 2019 PGA Championship – but we should absolutely like his chances of a title contention better when the Englishman is closer to home.  

Genesis Scottish Open Top-20 Picks

Conservative: Sepp Straka (+200) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+200)

I’d like to think of it less as indecision and more an indication of my excitement that I’m listing multiple players for multiple categories in this week’s preview. Straka was playing some terrific golf before a middling T-61 in his title defense at the John Deere. We can either take that as a sign his game has recently peaked and is now riding that roller coaster back toward the bottom, or that he’s simply drawing us away from the scent. I’ll hope the latter, as he was T-2 on a links course at The Open last year. 

Bezuidenhout, on the other hand, is a guy I prefer to play on courses where conditions are difficult, as his terrific short game often keeps him from carding too many bogeys. The more the wind blows this week, the more I’ll favor him.

Aggressive: Laurie Canter (+400)

It’s perhaps been a bit underpublicized – maybe because the few players affected have been lesser-known non-Americans – but there are those who joined LIV, lost status and are now essentially golf nomads, though Canter has already won on the DP World Tour this year, securing his playing privileges by taking last month’s European Open. 

Those who have played with him insist he has plenty of game and is worthy of playing on any top-level tour. I like playing him for a free-wheeling, house-money top-20 here. Well… his house money, not ours. 

Genesis Scottish Open Top-40 Picks

Conservative: Jordan L. Smith (-140) and Tom McKibbin (-110)

In 15 starts this year – all DP World Tour-sanctioned events, but contested all over the globe – Smith owns three top-fives, but those are also his only top-20s. That suggests a high-ceiling play, but there’s plenty of value at his floor, with nine top-40s. 

McKibbin is a 21-year-old from Holywood, just like McIlroy, and while the comparisons should end there, he’s at least shown early signs of stardom, having already won on the DP World Tour last summer. And speaking of a floor, he’s been top-40 in 11-of-13 starts this year, including results of second and sixth in his last two.

Aggressive: Connor Syme (+220) and David Law (+450)

Sure, it might seem like a romantic notion that two of Scotland’s own can compete amongst the game’s elite on home turf, but remember: It was just a year ago when Robert MacIntyre, a countryman of Syme and Law, finished runner-up to McIlroy at this event. 

Granted, he was more established at the time, but we’re only seeking top-40s from this pair, not another title contention. Syme is fresh off a share of fourth place at the BMW International Open last week, while Law has finished 14th or better in three of his last six starts.

Genesis Scottish Open First-Round Leader Bets

Conservative: Tom Kim (+3500)

Three weeks ago, Kim opened with a 62 at the Travelers Championship before eventually falling to Scottie Scheffler in a playoff three days later. He missed the cut one week after that, but that might be easily chalked up to it being his ninth week in a row on the road.

After a bye week, Kim returns overseas, where he started with a 66 in a T-6 result at last year’s Scottish Open, followed by a T-2 at The Open, the latter occurring while playing through injury. This could be another big week for the youngster and though I like him for four-round investments, I prefer the idea of trying to hit the mark with a first-round play here.

Aggressive: Sebastian Soderberg (+9000)

The biggest headline for Soderberg over the past month was that he turned a massive lead at the Scandinavian Mixed into an excruciating loss, posting the worst Sunday score in the field, punctuated by a short miss on the final green that would’ve made McIlroy blush. 

The underlying theme, though, is that he’s been playing some terrific golf, with four top-threes in his last five starts before a WD at the KLM Open two weeks ago. Two of those last three have begun with an opening-round 63, hinting that he’s the type who is proficient in racing out to a hot start.

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About the Author

Jason Sobel

Read More @JasonSobelGolf

Jason Sobel is a Brand Ambassador for BetMGM. He joins after six years with Action Network. Prior to Action, Jason spent a total of 17 years in two stints at ESPN (1997-2011; 2015-18) and four years at Golf Channel (2011-15). He also currently works as a host for "Hitting the Green" on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and contributes to the channel's on-site coverage during major championships. He's won four Sports Emmy awards, more than a dozen Golf Writers Association of America accolades and has earned an honorable mention in the Best of American Sportswriting series.

Jason Sobel is a Brand Ambassador for BetMGM. He joins after six years with Action Network. Prior to Action, Jason spent a total of 17 years in two stints at ESPN (1997-2011; 2015-18) and four years at Golf Channel (2011-15). He also currently works as a host for "Hitting the Green" on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and contributes to the channel's on-site coverage during major championships. He's won four Sports Emmy awards, more than a dozen Golf Writers Association of America accolades and has earned an honorable mention in the Best of American Sportswriting series.