Grace to Do US a Dunhill Favour

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: October 2 2012, 16:43 BST

Grace: At the top of his game currently

2pts e.w. Branden Grace at 50/1 (bet365, Paddy Power 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

1pt e.w. Jamie Donaldson at 35/1 (Coral, Betfred 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

1pt e.w. Victor Dubuisson at 100/1 (Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6).

1pt e.w. Alejandro Canizares at 250/1 (Coral 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).


Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer and Paul Lawrie all rock up this week for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the east coast of Scotland following Europe's Medinah Miracle.

The latter reported that the champagne flowed until 3am and there were understandably a few fuzzy heads afterwards.

Before we totally write off the trio plus the vice captains with their extended hangovers, Martin Kaymer did win this event two years ago immediately after Europe's victory at Celtic Manor so all the post-Ryder Cup hype surrounding some hardened, veteran pros is probably exaggerrated.

There is a big contingent of players from the Sunshine Tour in South Africa making up the field this week and in-form Branden Grace is the headline pick to win back-to-back events at 50/1.

The 23-year-old has flown under the radar somewhat this year but is looking for a tremendous fourth title on the European Tour and fifth overall.

He crossed the winning line in first place as recently as last week at his home club of Fancourt - a second success there in 2012 - when he mastered some very tough weather conditions on The Links to win the Vodacom Origins of Golf by three shots from Allan Versfeld.

Grace's closing 68 on a vile afternoon was by far the day's best score and highlighted how far his game has come this season.

He admitted at Fancourt that he had become a little jaded in mid-season and a short break had done him the world of good so it was unsurprising to see him come back and outclass his field.

Clearly his preparation for the test at Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St Andrews could not have gone any better while he will have no fear in terms of stringing consecutive titles together after achieving that feat in January at the Joburg Open and then Volvo Champions.

Grace is now up inside the top 50 in the world and historically this event has gone the way of a proven performer with a win or two under his belt - Grace's profile looks ideal.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson is another excellent links exponent and it was probably little shock on reflection to see him finally break his European Tour duck by the seaside in this year's Irish Open at Portrush.

Plagued by back problems a few seasons ago, he has become one of the most consistent performers around and seems to bring his game every time he tees it up.

The boost in confidence he got after his victory was obvious as he went on to record a top 10 in the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island with a similar result on his penultimate outing in the Omega European Masters.

The way he can control his golf ball is made for links golf so it was no surprise to hear his reaction after the year's final major. He said: "It's been nice and it's been windy. I love playing on the coast."

He gets another chance to display his skills then and there has already been bits and pieces of money around for him ahead of the tournament as punters start to latch on - but the 35/1 still available is tempting enough for him to build on a T9 here 12 months ago and a T8 in 2008.

I am going to go for a couple of outsiders now in Victor Dubuisson and Alejandro Canizares.

The former's star is very much in the ascendency and an excellent season - just his third as a pro - has him bang on course for the big-money, season-ending Dubai World Championship.

He finished in the frame in China and Korea earlier in the campaign and arrives here on the back of a T13 in Italy which saw him shoot all four rounds in the 60s.

He posted an encouraging top 30 in this event 12 months ago with a weekend 65-69 and this links layout set up for the amateurs in the field should not overly penalise his erratic driving, a category in which he is currently ranked 188th for accuracy.

Spain's Canizares should take some inspiration from Jose Maria Olazabal's winning captaincy at Medinah and can also feed off the positive memories he has of St Andrews after his performance at the Open Championship in 2010.

Okay, he drifted away in the final round with a 77 but was bang in contention for three days as he played some lovely golf in some testing conditions.

Canizares has been more hit than miss since his second place in his national championship but his best recent effort came in the Scottish Open when T11 at Castle Stuart.

A return to the links and the motivation of boosting his chances of making the all-important top 60 in the Race To Dubai - he currently sits 70th - might just see him produce a big week so he is well worth a second glance at 250/1.

  • Preview posted at 1630 BST on 02/10/2012.