• Betting Bunker

Pile on Padraig at Castle Stuart

Alex Livie July 11, 2012
Padraig Harrington has his sights trained on victory in Scotland © PA Photos
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The smell of sea air and cavernous pot bunkers can only mean the Open is on the horizon. Royal Lytham will be a major test this year and the players will limber up for the event at Castle Stuart Golf Links - home of the Scottish Open.

The different challenge that links golf poses compared to a parkland track is hard to describe, with the roll of the ball and effect of the wind making it a unique challenge. Players up and down the world rankings are aware of the need to hone their links skills ahead of the Open and this is highlighted by the fact the likes of world No. 1 Luke Donald and four-time major winner Phil Mickelson are in the field.

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  • Padraig Harrington E/W - 14/1 at bet365

Donald figures prominently in the betting for the Scottish Open - which is no real surprise given he won the event by four strokes 12 months ago. That was a stunning effort, given terrible weather cut the event to 54 holes. The bookmakers are running scared, with the Englishman heading bet365's market at 15/2, and he is a worthy favourite given his record and class. He won the BMW PGA Championship at the end of May to prove he is in form and the Bunker would not put anyone off backing him, but we're not one to row in on a favourite with such a class field in opposition.

The player that catches our eye is a proven links favourite in Padraig Harrington. The Irishman is a two-time Open champion and he is relishing the challenge that will face him on the banks of the Moray Firth.

"There's no substitute for playing competitive links golf," he told the European Tour's website. "You cannot compare how far the ball goes on a soft parkland course to how it goes off links turf. You cannot compare the wind and the effect it has on the golf course. It might be the same strength of wind but it affects it totally different on a links course. Links golf is just not the same thing as what we normally play."

Harrington went through a poor spell for a couple of years but appears to have turned things around with the help of coaches Dave Alred and Pete Cowan. He was eighth at the Masters and fourth at the US Open, while a seventh-place finish at the Irish Open reaffirmed his liking for links play.

He can be backed at 14/1 and with him confirming his desire to taste glory in the week before the Open, he's our idea of the winner.

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.

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Alex Livie was editor of ESPN.co.uk