Tom Doak’s layout on the Firth of Forth plays to a very difficult Par-70 at 7,237 yards and will host for the fifth consecutive season.
Top of the Board
If Scottie Scheffler (7/1) is in the field, he resides in the pre-tournament penthouse. The last time we saw the Texan was at TPC River Highlands, the week after the U.S. Open, signing for another top five payday (T4). His streak is now six straight inside the top five and 17 consecutive finishes T12 or better. Making his third-consecutive appearance in the land where the game was invented, the world No. 1 will look to improve on MC-T12 on his last two visits.
Second choice this week falls to world No. 3 Rory McIlroy (9/1). The Ulsterman has been as hot as the weather, cashing in the top 10 in his last five starts. Next week will be the ninth anniversary of his victory at Royal Liverpool, but there’s work to do at North Berwick. After T34 in 2019 on his debut he returned in 2021 and went home early. His driver will set the pace this week.
The reigning champion Xander Schauffele (14/1) arrived last season fresh off a victory at TPC River Highlands in his previous start. Showing his ability to navigate the tough conditions and breezes, he posted two of the three best rounds of the week. The tougher the challenge, the more Schauffele shines. Check his U.S. Open record!
Patrick Cantlay (14/1) added this event last season, and it is not a surprise to see him return. Posting all four rounds at 70 or better, he signed for T4 and was T5 GIR. Leading the TOUR in Total Driving, he also ranks in the top five in SG: Off the Tee and SG: Tee to Green. The only surprise this week would be if he was not in contention.
Rickie Fowler (16/1) kicked down the door at the Rocket Mortgage Classic for his first victory since February of 2019 at the WM Phoenix Open. Winning the playoff in Detroit continued his fantastic run of form. In his last five events he’s painted the top 13, and four of those have gone for a top 10. Over his last 15 events he’s cashed T25 or better 12 times. His second visit follows opening with 69-69 for T47 last year. A super wind player and a fantastic putter he won this event in 2015 at Gullane and should be in your staking plans this week.
The Renaissance Club played as one of the most difficult courses used on TOUR last season. Fairways were difficult to find. Birdies and eagles were scarce.
The Par-70 was the most difficult of all Par-70s, non-major division, and the fifth most difficult overall.
Only two tracks had tougher fairways to find.
The GIR rate was in the top 10 most difficult.
The putting average was second only to the massive greens at St. Andrews.
And the wind will blow.
The winner takes home $1.62 million of the $9 million purse, plus 500 FedExCup points.
Others to Consider:
Tyrrell Hatton (18/1) enjoys a proper grind because he’s an excellent putter and can handle tough, breezy conditions off the tee. His victory at Bay Hill in 2020 came on 4-under on a brutal layout. The Englishman has posted three top 24 finishes in his last three visits.
Tommy Fleetwood (20/1) posted T4 here last year preceded T4 at The Old Course for the 150th Open Championship. Sitting in the top 35 in all of the Strokes-Gained metrics, he should be in contention more often. Missing the cut in his last event in the States, don’t forget he cashed T5 at the U.S. Open after going close (P2) in Canada. Too many clues.
Shane Lowry (30/1) continues the theme of players from this part of the world who have excelled in less-than-ideal conditions. The Irishman has cashed T20 or better in four of his last five on TOUR but hasn’t found the top 10. He’s not required to play this week but is here for the first time.
SG: Off the Tee (PGA TOUR)
SG: Off the Tee (DP World Tour)
Last year only nine players hit more than 30 fairways. Playing from the fairway will provide a chance to attack the proper levels of the undulating greens and play away from trouble lurking off the putting surfaces.
Bogey Avoidance (PGA TOUR)
Bogey Avoidance (DP World Tour)
There will be bogeys. Plenty of them.
Last year only THREE PLAYERS made fewer than 10 bogeys. They cashed solo third (Tom Kim), T4 (Tommy Fleetwood), and T16 (Max Homa). Kim and Homa were making their tournament debut.
Accepting and embracing the grind is half of the battle this week.
Aaron Rai (66/1): The 2020 champion from October has been in blistering form in the States. With top-10 paydays in two of his last three starts he should be excited to show off his form in his part of the world.
Adrian Meronk (80/1): Finds too many fairways and just as many greens! Winner at the Italian Open earlier this season, he’s added T5, T3 and T15 in three of his last five starts in Europe.
Alexander Bjork (110/1): In his last eight starts, he cashed in the top 10 seven times. He’ll be looking forward to cashing his fifth weekend of five visits to North Berwick. What am I missing?
Kevin Yu (225/1): T3 in Bermuda. T7 at Pebble Beach. T6 last week at JDC. SUPERB ball-striker.