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2024 Genesis Scottish Open: The key holes and players to watch

2024 Genesis Scottish Open: The key holes and players to watch

by Edoardo Molinari

In his second piece for the DP World Tour, three-time winner Edoardo Molinari identifies the key Fortinet Threat Holes at The Renaissance Club and the players to watch at the second Rolex Series event of the year.


For the past five years, the Genesis Scottish Open has made its home at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

It’s a course which has both the unique challenges and opportunities of a links course, while historically favouring longer hitters who can putt well on greens that are pure and extremely fast.

Taking a closer look at both Rory McIlroy’s victory in 2023 and some of the key statistics over the past five editions, here's a look at three key holes and players to watch at this year's tournament.

Looking back: Rory McIlroy's victory in 2023

Rory McIlroy’s first Genesis Scottish Open title came with an impressive all-around performance tee to green, and one of the most remarkable finishes in the history of the DP World Tour.

When he approached the 17th tee on Sunday, he was just one behind Robert MacIntyre. With course conditions taken into consideration, his chances of birdieing the final two holes were at just 0.1%, making his victory all the more exceptional.

The strength of his game was undoubtedly off the tee. He gained 1.3 shots per round, second only to Ludvig Aberg, by hitting 52% of fairways with an incredible average distance of 328 yards (34 yards longer than the field average).

While ranking first for strokes gained tee to green, McIlroy also ranked second in strokes gained approach the green, gaining another 1.2 strokes per round with his irons and wedges, and was 0.425 shots per round better than the field in approach play from the long rough.

As for the greens, he actually lost shots putting from inside 13 feet, but ranked 38th among the field for Strokes gained putting thanks to an outstanding week of lag-putting than helped him to lead the field in birdies, with a total of 22 for the week - including on the final two holes of the tournament.

Fortinet Threat Score: The Key Holes

Hole 16

At 576 yards, the par five 16th hole has been the second easiest, but also the one with the most variability in scoring. A risk and reward hole, historically there have been 41% birdies or better and 8% bogeys or worse.

The difficulty comes from the tee shot, which is arguably the most important of the round. Only 48% of players typically hit the fairway, but hitting it goes a long way to increasing the chances of a birdie on that hole, while missing left off the tee and bringing bunkers into play basically eliminates that chance. The bail-out is right into the rough, but that also stops the green being reachable if into the wind.

With an undulating green, hitting it in two isn't straightforward, but there were six eagles on that hole last year throughout the week and 169 birdies, proving it's a great opportunity to score if you can avoid the trouble.

Hole 18

The toughest hole on the course, the 483-yard par four usually plays into the wind and can be a brutal finishing hole. Last year, there were just three birdies at the 18th on Sunday, including from champion Rory McIlroy, and 29 for the entire week. Historically, this hole has given up just 7% of birdies vs 34% of bogeys or worse.

The key here is that players absolutely have to miss bunkers down the left, as only an exceptional lie would allow you to reach the green in two.

The wind also plays a big factor here: There is one bunker on the right that can be carried if the conditions are good and will leave a shorter iron into the green, while a difficult tee shot into the wind between the bunkers will still leave a long iron into the slightly elevated green.

Hole 9

The toughest par three on the course, the 218-yard ninth hole tends to play into the wind and last year ranked as the third hardest hole - with just 25 birdies the entire week.

A relatively small green, the approach shot is the key challenge to this hole, with just 44% of players historically hitting the green. Like the 18th it also tends to play into the wind, which adds to the test.

Players to watch

With a course that suits long hitters and those who can also putt well, I've taken a look at players who have a statistically good chance at performing well this week.

The Favourites

Rory McIlroy
The defending champion gets back to Scotland after a disappointing finish to end up second to Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open. But he's returning to a course that suits his style of play and with form that also includes a recent win, it's very likely he could successfully defend his title.

Robert MacIntyre
The Scot has been enjoying the best season of his career so far, which includes a victory on the PGA Tour at the RBC Canadian Open. Last year his putting was incredible this week as he hardly missed a putt inside 10 ft all week, and produced just as an incredible finish at the 18th as Rory McIlroy did to finish in second place. Should he putt the same this week, he could be very dangerous on home soil.


Byeong Hun An
A long hitter who has been enjoying his best season so far on the PGA Tour, with five top tens in 2024. He used to play full-time in Europe and it’s a great course for him, having finished in a tie for thirdhere last year.

Tom McKibbin
The Northern Irishman is one of the most promising players on the DP World Tour. He is a long hitter and a great ball striker who should feel at home in the windy conditions at The Reinassance Club. He finished tied for 35th on his debut last season, just a few weeks after claiming his maiden DP World Tour title. A consistent presence this year, McKibbin returns to Scotland after finishing runner-up to Marcel Siem in last week's BMW International Open - which is just one of six top tens he's had in 2024.

Jesper Svensson
The Challenge Tour graduate is statistically one of the best new player on DP World Tour this year, claiming his maiden victory at the Porsche Singapore Classic and finishing as the runner-up at both The Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies and the Investec South African Open Championship. Coming off a great season on Challenge Tour, the Swede has been one of the best players off the tee, and that length should see Reinassance should suit him very well.