Scandinavian Invitation betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Our expert has six each-way tips for the Scandinavian Invitation
Our expert has six each-way tips for the Scandinavian Invitation

In-form golf expert Ben Coley previews the Scandinavian Invitation, where local youngster Marcus Kinhult looks a solid each-way bet.

Recommended bets

1pt e.w. Marcus Kinhult at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

1pt e.w. Aaron Rai at 66/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

1pt e.w. Lee Slattery at 80/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt e.w. Andrew Johnston at 90/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)

1pt e.w. Matthew Southgate at 100/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

1pt e.w. Romain Wattel at 150/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

If, like me, you can't bring yourself to take single-figure prices about either of the top two in the market for the Scandinavian Invitation, you have to at least acknowledge the prospect of them confining alternative options to a battle for minor honours.

Henrik Stenson and Matthew Fitzpatrick are in a different league to almost every other player in the field here, with Alex Noren not far behind, and all three should enjoy the challenge which Hills Golf Club presents.

Even a lack of match practice at this short par 70 is mitigated by the fact that it played host to what was the Nordea Masters for the first time last year, and Stenson and Fitzpatrick in particular have precisely the right games to begin the final segment of the season in style.

Last year, Paul Waring got off the mark at the 200th attempt, but it's the two closest behind him who might provide the best clue as to what's required. Thomas Aiken and Max Kieffer are among the very straightest drivers on the circuit, and at a fiddly, undulating course with its fair share of trouble spots, I believe we could be in for something similar.

Of all the game's elite players, Stenson and Fitzpatrick are arguably the two most likely to find a fairway when needed, so again I must reiterate that either one of them could prove far too good. Fitzpatrick in particular looks likely to make hay over the next few months and this fierce competitor, who ought to have won in Germany recently, looks the man to beat.

For all that the big three are respected, there's a lack of depth behind them and that makes for a number of appealing each-way plays, none more so than Marcus Kinhult.

I put up Kinhult for this last year only to endure a frustrating watch as he missed chance after chance over the first two rounds, with Sunday's closing 67 no less than he deserved at the end of a taxing week.

He was 50/1 then and is a bigger price now, a reflection of the strength at the head of the betting no doubt, yet I'm of the belief that he's underestimated in the market having shown just what he can do with victory in the British Masters in May.

Kinhult went toe-to-toe with one of the toughest players on the circuit that day, Matt Wallace, and finished birdie-birdie to snare his first professional win. It was the sort of effort which, combined with the fact he led this event at halfway when still an amateur, suggests the pressure of playing in Sweden isn't likely to hinder him.

Indeed, the best Swedish players have long won this title and for Kinhult this really is a home game as he lives not far from the course, one he knows well, so there's plenty of cause for optimism after he struck the ball well without reward in the Scottish Open last time.

Like so many here, Kinhult hasn't been seen competitively since then, but he's gone well fresh in the past and his familiarity with the venue can make up for any rust.

Playing with Stenson and Fitzpatrick over the first two rounds probably isn't ideal, but Kinhult is a special talent who can rise to the occasion and put his accuracy off the tee to better use than last year.

When it comes to finding fairways, few are more reliable than Aaron Rai and he rates a solid bet at a similar price.

It's been a disappointing 2019 for the Wolverhampton pro after he broke through at the back-end of last year in Hong Kong, but he's still doing most things right and it may just be a case of waiting for the sort of challenge which brings out his best.

Third in bogey avoidance, ninth in driving accuracy and sixth in greens hit are the sort of numbers we'd expect from one of the tidiest operators on the circuit, and at some stage soon they will translate into a big performance.

Two starts ago, Rai produced some of his best golf of the year to finish 12th in the world-class FedEx St. Jude Invitational, finishing alongside recent PGA Tour winners Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas, and there was plenty to like about his effort on a bombers' golf course in Prague subsequently.

That sets Rai up nicely for a return to Sweden, where he was a solid 24th last year, and his ability to avoid mistakes could be invaluable at a course like this one.

There are any number of tempting options at big prices, the likes of Nino Bertasio, Scott Jamieson, Bradley Dredge and even Marc Warren making some degree of appeal, but next on the list is Andrew Johnston.

Beef was rewarded for more quality iron play when fourth in Scotland prior to the Open, a performance which marked his return to where he belongs after a lengthy struggle with mental health issues as well as a search for form and fitness.

From there he only narrowly missed the cut at Portrush, and in his case the enforced break probably came at the right time as he and his partner prepare for the arrival of their first child.

Speaking on the Life On Tour podcast recently, Johnston oozed excitement not only for the life-changing event which is just around the corner now, but for the months ahead on the golf course where his game and his attitude are where he needs them to be.

"Game is trending in the right direction, head's good, everything is in a nice place," he confirmed, highlighting the opportunities presented by a busy run of events right through to the end of the European Tour season.

Clearly, Johnston is likely to miss one or two of them and at 85th in the Race To Dubai standings, he can't afford to pass up a chance like this one, on an ideal course for him, if he wants to make the DP World Tour Championship and complete the comeback.

Having been 10th here last year, Johnston - who, like Rai, has rock-solid bogey avoidance stats and hits a lot of fairways - looks an each-way player at 66/1 and bigger.

Speaking of the Race To Dubai, at 114th and 116th respectively, Lee Slattery and Matthew Southgate know they've work to do to secure their playing rights for 2020.

Slattery has returned to form of late, finishing ninth when put up at 300/1 for the Scottish Open where he opened with a pair of 64s to lead, and this is very much his grade and his time of year.

The Englishman has won twice on the European Tour, once in September and once in October, and with 15-under winning totals in both events this mid-scoring challenge should be right up his street.

Slattery played well here last year to share 10th with Johnston and Southgate, and he's starting to build some momentum having again showed up nicely in the Czech Republic last week.

As for Southgate, he's one of the straightest shooters around and his performance in Prague, where he finished 30th, can be marked up as a result. He just wasn't rewarded for leading the field in fairways hit, but that shouldn't be the case here.

Best known for his exploits by the coast, that's no bad thing with a steady, cool breeze common in these parts, and it was only a disappointing second round which cost him a chance to win this title a year ago.

Southgate is probably not quite in the same sort of form this time around, but he showed in Denmark and Belgium that when presented with the right kind of challenge his game is in good enough shape to compete.

Finally, while it was tempting to play the inspiration angle with Thomas Detry, or side with winners-in-waiting Jordan Smith or Romain Langasque, it's the latter's compatriot and namesake Romain Wattel who completes the staking plan.

A massive underachiever, Wattel at least looks to have turned a corner this summer with top-20 finishes in each of his last two starts, and it was really encouraging to see his approach play click in the Czech Republic.

An opening 63 in Scotland prior to that marked our cards for the first time and with four top-30 finishes in six starts in this event, it's one which gives him an opportunity to take the small step forward which is required to contend.

Wattel's sole European Tour win came around this time two years ago and he's good enough to add to it here if building on last week.

Posted at 1400 BST on 20/08/19

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