Expert picks: Scottish Open


This week, the European Tour heads to Scotland for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. Luke Donald, who won last year's storm-shortened event, will defend his title at Castle Stuart in Inverness. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Luke Donald: Forget that missed cut at the U.S. Open. The Englishman was solid on his way to victory last year at Castle Stuart and he is, at least according to the World Ranking math, the game’s best player.

Group 2: Andres Romero: The Argentine continues to emerge from a prolonged slump, and he has played well on true links courses in the past. In four British Open starts, he’s never finished worse than 32nd, and he was third in 2007.

Group 3: Peter Lawrie: Although not the Lawrie Scottish fans will be rooting for, the Irishman has been consistent in the U.K. In his last two U.K. starts, he finished T-8 (Wales Open) and fourth (BMW PGA Championship).

Group 4: Robert Coles: He hasn’t had his best stuff this year, but he finished tied for 10th last year in Scotland.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Luke Donald: No reason to over think the world's top-ranked golfer and defending champion even if he emerged in the rain-abbreviated debut of Castle Stuart Golf Links. Buried 21 birdies against two bogeys en route to his four-stroke romp.

Group 2: Padraig Harrington: While he placed T-14 in the weather-shortened edition last year, that doesn't clinch my investment quite like five top 15s in his last six starts worldwide, including in his last four.

Group 3: Henrik Stenson: Since a T-13 at the St. Jude Classic, he's posted back-to-back top 10s in Europe. The Swede has climbed 100 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking in the last five months to his current position of 130th.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: Since his win in Sicily just over three months ago, he has four top 25s in eight events, including a T-5. Seriously above-average value compared to the other options in this group.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Ernie Els: Was T-14 here last year and is playing some reinvigorated golf.

Group 2: Padraig Harrington: In the U.S. Open until the end, Harrington is playing well everywhere these days.

Group 3: Shane Lowry: Another Irishman that's starting to turn things around. He was T-17 in France on a tough track.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: It's only a matter of time before Olesen wins again. Before the French Open, the Dane was in the top 22 in his last three starts.