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11D AGO

Horses for Courses: Rory McIlroy back for more at The Renaissance Club

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    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    Rory McIlroy (+750) returns to The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland, to defend his title at the Genesis Scottish Open. The field of 156 will feature the Ulsterman and seven other previous event winners . The current world No. 2, who led the field in birdies last year with 22, was one of four players to post all four rounds in the 60s on the par-70 layout. The only man to win the Irish, Scottish and Open Championships cashed T34 in the first edition on the Tom Doak links in 2019 but missed the cut in the 2021 tournament.

    Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green

    Players listed are in the field this week; 2024 season stats.

    RankPlayer
    2Xander Schauffele
    3Rory McIlroy
    4Hideki Matsuyama
    5Keith Mitchell
    7Justin Thomas
    8Corey Conners
    9Collin Morikawa
    10Aaron Rai
    11Si Woo Kim
    12Ludvig Åberg

    Opened in 2008 after being completed by U.S. architect Tom Doak, the sixth edition at The Renaissance Club will be the third edition with a co-sanctioned field of PGA TOUR players and DP World Tour players. The par 70 will play 7,237 yards and is anything but standard. While both nines play to par 35, the back has two of the three par-5 holes and three of the five par-3 holes. All five winners, including Aaron Rai from the 2020 October edition, have all ranked in the top four in this category. The first steps are navigating the wind and avoiding the tall fescue and bunkers off the tee. The fine fescue greens also provide large targets, but sticking approach shots close is challenging. Judging the wind, bounce and roll out is a skill. Last season, The Renaissance Club ranked No. 1 on TOUR in Proximity overall and No. 2 in Rough Proximity and Fairway Proximity. If the wind doesn’t provide the primary defense, the pin positions on the massive, rolling greens will. There are worse plans of attack than playing for the center of the green. From the list above, three of the top 10 (in bold) have found the winner’s circle.

    Playing in difficult conditions, Xander Schauffele (+800) won the 2022 edition after sharing 10th on 14 under in easier weather in 2021. Posting the lowest score in Round 2 (65), he shared the low round of the day (66) in Round 3 to lead by two shots after 54 holes. In defense last year, the current world No. 3 sat six off the 54-hole lead before cashing T42. Never missing a cut at the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club or in six starts at The Open Championship, the Californian enjoys his golf on the links.

    RankPlayer
    2Wyndham Clark
    3Denny McCarthy
    4Christiaan Bezuidenhout
    5Collin Morikawa
    6Jordan Spieth
    7Viktor Hovland
    9Xander Schauffele
    12Tom Hoge
    T13Mackenzie Hughes
    16Brian Harman
    T17Thomas Detry, Matt Fitzpatrick

    During the 2023 season, The Renaissance Club yielded the fewest feet of made putts on TOUR. From within 10 feet, only the Poa annua of Torrey Pines Golf Course provided a more difficult challenge. Gaining strokes on the field is not required on the greens this week. Only one winner, Min Woo Lee from 2021, finished inside the top 32 (20th) in SG: Putting. Hitting GIR, lagging it close, settling in against the breeze, and knocking in par putts go a long way this week.

    Winning the 2021 edition in his second attempt, Min Woo Lee (+2800) became the youngest winner at The Renaissance Club at age 22. Closing with 65-64 to force a playoff, the Australian lifted the trophy for the first (and only) time outside his native country. Relying on his deft short game, he is the only winner from five to rank inside the top five in SG: Around the Green and top 20 in Putting Average. Posting 18-under 266 on the par 71 at the time, he fell four shots short of the tournament record, 262, posted by Bernd Wiesberger (+8000) in the inaugural event at The Renaissance Club in 2019. Missing the cut in defense in 2022, he posted T35 in 2023 and T30 in 2020 in his other two starts.

    RankPlayer
    2Denny McCarthy
    T3Billy Horschel
    T3Andrew Novak
    T3Xander Schauffele
    T7Sami Valimaki
    T7Erik van Rooyen
    T7Kevin Yu
    T11Thomas Detry
    T11Matthieu Pavon
    T11Keith Mitchell

    The par-70 layout provides five par-3 holes, two on the outward nine and three on the inward portion. The mix of yardages adds another challenge to an already difficult layout. The first chance, hole No. 6, is only 147 yards, but No. 9 tips at 218 yards. A third of the final nine holes are three-shotters and play 204, 161 and 203 yards. Depending on the ferocity and direction of the wind, these three holes on the inward nine will test the mettle and execution on Sunday afternoon.

    Aaron Rai (+4000) is the only winner outside July. Shifted to October for the 2020 tournament, the man with two gloves defeated Tommy Fleetwood (+1800) on the first hole of a playoff. Returning in July of 2021, the Englishman cashed T35, the only winner to pick up a top-40 payday in defense. Missing the cut the last two seasons and in 2019, five of those six rounds have been 72 or better.

    Oddsmaker’s extras

    Tommy Fleetwood (+1800): The Englishman has plenty of highlights on the Firth of Forth, including losing a playoff to Rai in October 2020. Cashing T6 in 2023, he signed for 63 in Round 3. The 2022 edition, the most difficult scoring conditions of the five events at The Renaissance Club, saw him post three rounds in the 60s over his last 54 holes to share fourth. Posting four rounds under par in 2021, his total of 10-under brought T26.

    Tom Kim (+2500): The 22-year-old star forced himself onto the podium on debut in 2022 with solo third and picked up another top 10 (T6) last year after signing for three more rounds in the 60s. Despite closing with 73 from the final group last year with Rory McIlroy, he added another layer to his growing resume. Not many hit more fairways than the Korean star.

    Thomas Detry (+6000): Vanquished in a playoff in 2021 by Min Woo Lee, the Belgian, who also added T10 in 2022, has never missed the weekend in all five events in North Berwick.

    Robert MacIntyre (+3300): The Oban man has played the weekend three times from five starts. The Ryder Cup star has taken home checks for T18 or better, including solo second after closing with 64 last summer.

    Matt Fitzpatrick (+3300): A missed cut in July 2023 ended a run of four straight paydays. The Englishman, who was a part of the three-man playoff in 2021, also racked up T6 in 2022 and T14 in 2019.

    Max Homa (+5000): Making his debut in 2022, the Californian has cashed T12 and T16 over the last two.

    Jordan Smith (+12500): Posting four rounds in the 60s last year (T12), the Englishman followed three more from 2022 (T24), his best two from five starts.

    Wyndham Clark (+4500): Posting 70 or better in his last six rounds, the 2023 U.S. Open champion collected T25 and T16 over the previous two years.

    Grant Forrest (+40000): One of the many Scots in the field, the local from East Lothian has cashed four times from five attempts with solo 11th last season, the best of the bunch. Hey, everybody needs a long shot!

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