Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports. PIctured: Ariya Jutanugarn
- The 2019 LPGA Scottish Open begins this Thursday at The Renaissance Club.
- Jeremy Pond previews the tournament and suggests a few outright and matchup bets.
After taking a week off to get married, I am back fresh and looking to get off the snide during this terrible run of second-place finishes I have amassed handicapping the women’s tour.
The latest hard-luck loser to join my list of runner-up picks was Shanshan Feng, who earned a share of second place at The Evian Championship. Jin Young Ko, the world’s No. 1 player in the Rolex women’s golf rankings, won the major championship. Ko was one of four players favored to win the title, closing at 14-1 odds. Feng’s second-place effort made it five times in six weeks I have been on the runner-up at an LPGA Tour event.
This streak must end and I hope it does this week with a win at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland.
Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn, the world’s No. 5-ranked player, leads the list of contenders in what I consider a very top-heavy field. Australian star Minjee Lee, the highest ranked player in the world competing at the event, is back after finishing second to Jutanugarn a year ago and looks to improve on her No. 4 world ranking.
Jeongeun Lee6, the world’s No. 7-ranked player, is also in the field, as well as South Korean standout Hyo Joo Kim and the English duo of Charley Hull and Bronte Law.
In terms of value, there isn’t a whole lot at the top in my opinion. Jutanugarn is the consensus favorite around the market, sitting around 6-1 odds. Kim comes in as the second choice at 9-1 odds, followed by Lee6 (10-1), Lee (11-1) and Sei Young Kim at 12-1 odds. Everyone else in the field is 18-1 or longer.
If there was a week to go “chalk,” this is definitely the one to go that route.
Ariya Jutanugarn (6-1)
Hard to go against the defending champion in this spot. Picking the former world No. 1 goes against everything I preach when it comes to numbers and value, but this field is top heavy in talent and Jutanugarn should be at those odds.
Jutanugarn has yet to win an event this season on tour, but has been knocking on the door the past four tournaments and leads me to believe her first 2019 victory is around the corner. She finished T11 last week and was a solo fifth at The Evian Championship. Prior to those showings, the Thai star finished T3 at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and runner-up at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
Expecting Jutanugarn to heat up down the stretch of this season’s tour schedule and that elusive first win of the year could come right here in Scotland.
Minjee Lee (11-1)
Meet the LPGA Tour’s model of consistency.
The Australian has been so good this season, finished T19 or better in 10 of her last 12 events across the world. That includes a win back in April at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open. Lee earned a share of 11th place at the Women’s British Open, which came on the heels of a shocking missed cut at The Evian Championship.
Her track record at the Ladies Scottish Open speaks for itself. Lee was runner-up at last year’s event, finishing a shot behind Jutanugarn. She was a solo eight at the 2017 tournament.
I actually anticipated Lee to be the favorite, so getting anything in double digits in regard to her odds is a win as far as I am concerned.
Sei Young Kim (12-1)
The South Korean and No. 8 player in the latest Rolex world rankings finished T24 last week in England, which came a week after her T17 effort at The Evian Championship in France.
Kim has two wins this season, with her most recent triumph coming at the Marathon Classic three starts back. She finished T21 at last year’s Scottish Open, but earned a share of sixth at the 2017 edition of the tournament. Kim is a hard read when it comes to playing her, but I like this number and feel like win No. 3 of the season could come at this event.
Charley Hull (28-1)
The British standout was in the mix for three rounds last week, only to card a final-round 76 on her way to a disappointing T24 finish. Hull, who will lead the line for Team Europe when the Solheim Cup comes around, has one win this season on the Ladies European Tour.
Hull has not fared well at the Ladies Scottish Open in the past, even carding an 80 in the third round of the 2017 event. However, I love the number we are getting on Hull (she should probably be somewhere between 22/1 to 25/1 in my opinion) and feel like this could be the site of her second win of the season.
Celine Boutier (50-1)
The Frenchwoman has come into her own this season, earning her maiden LPGA Tour win earlier this season at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia. Boutier, who starred for Duke University during her decorated collegiate career, came on strong in the final round of the Women’s British Open to earn a sixth-place finish.
Boutier has big dreams of making the European Solheim Cup team and a win right here would likely force Catriona Matthew to use one of her captain’s picks on the rising star. That said, expect Boutier to make a run at the Ladies Scottish Open crown and make things interesting in the selection process.
Morgan Pressel (50-1)
The veteran American player showed signs of life last week at the Women’s British Open, playing her way into contention en route to a fourth-place finish. Pressel has been the quintessential Jekyll-and-Hyde performer of late, missing the cut in four of her last eight starts. However, she has finished in the Top 6 three times during that stretch and no worse than her T11 showing at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Pressel has played her way into the United States’ Solheim Cup conversation and a big showing in Scotland could make things tough on Juli Inkster when it comes to her captain’s picks.
Asleigh Buhai (66-1)
The South African, who has never won an event on tour, nearly pulled off the win last week at the Women’s British Open after taking a big lead midway through the third round of play. Things fell apart on Saturday’s back nine holes and Buhai struggled the rest of the way, finishing a respectable solo fifth at the major tournament.
There is plenty of optimism that Buhai can build off that solid effort and contend for the title this week at an event where she finished T17 a year ago.
Charley Hull (+125) over So Yeon Ryu
My play of the tournament. Hull, who hails from Kettering, England, has simply been playing better than her South Korean counterpart, who missed the cut at the Women’s British Open. Play Hull with confidence.
Minjee Lee (-115) over Hyo Joo Kim
This marquee showdown between women’s golf stars pits the 2017 event’s runner-up against Kim, who finished T24 last week in England. Lee has a shot to win this event outright, so we are taking the Australian in this battle.
Ariya Jutanugarn (-135) over Jeong Eun Lee6
The defending champion gets the nod over the talented Lee6, who struggled her way to a T44 effort at the Women’s British Open. Go with the hotter hand in this matchup.