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FRANCESCO MOLINARI coasted to a three-shot lead at the Scottish Open yesterday but this afternoon it could pay to back the man who beat him into second place at last week's French Open, writes Ian Wilkerson.
The triumph of Marcel Siem in Paris on Sunday capped an excellent few weeks for the German after two other top-ten finishes in his last five European Tour events and he could get the better of Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey in his 1.25pm threeball. Casey's chances have been virtually dismissed after his season of woe continued yesterday. He stands four over par after the first round and has yet to find the form that once propelled him to third in the world rankings before he dislocated his shoulder in a snowboarding accident six months ago.
It is no surprise to see him at 5-1 to get the better of Harrington and Siem today, but there could be value in supporting the German at 7-4. Siem finished one-under yesterday and would have equalled Harrington's 69 had it not been for a double-bogey on the par-four 16th, which was his seventh hole.
It was a solid enough start and he proved last week that he could cope with difficult weather conditions in France - showers are predicted for Inverness this afternoon. Harrington has been flavour of the month for next week's Open for quite come time and has received sustained support to collect a third Claret Jug at Royal Lytham a week on Sunday. The Irishman is always fearedon links courses but there is no reason why in-form Siem cannot provide a strong challenge and he is worth chancing. In the face of Molinari's fine ten-under-par round of 62, Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen was the best of the rest among the early starters, posting a sevenunder 65 with Ireland's Shane Lowry and England's Robert Coles a further shot behind. Pablo Larrazabal, Luke Donald and Oscar Floren all shot 67. Recommendation M Siem to win threeball 1pt 7-4 Coral