The fourth and final major of the year is upon us as The Open Championship gets under way on Thursday at Royal Port Rush; only the second time in the tournament’s 160-year history it will not be played in Great Britain.
The Championship is nearly always played on links courses in Scotland or England but this year will take place at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, a venue which last staged the event way back in 1951.
An interesting fact I read earlier this week was that five new bunkers have been added to the course, yet Portrush’s total of 64 is the lowest count on the Open rota (Turnberry is next on 87).
I think the players’ ability on and around the greens this weekend will play a huge part in deciding this championship with the first, fifth, 11th, and 12th having steep slopes at the front of the putting surface, meaning poorly played shots with a lot of spin will be sucked a long way back.
The second and 14th greens are two strong examples of raised greens from which errant shots will kick away, so good approaches and a strong short game are vital this week.
Koepka is a winning machine
As far as picking a winner, the usual suspects are up there as always with many in good form, but this is links golf!
My personal favourite with whom I’ve had a lot of success backing in recent times (as I’m sure many of you have!) is BROOKS KOEPKA. The guy is a winning machine and almost impossible to beat when in form.
He’s won four of his past nine majors and finished as runner-up in two others, while a big advantage this week is that his caddie, Ricky Elliott, just happens to be from Portrush and grew up playing what will be a largely unknown venue for everyone else. I usually like to back one to win and a couple of each way bets so Koepka is my bet to win.
Xander worth a gander
Another one to look out for this weekend is XANDER SCHAUFFELE, a golfer I love watching and is something of an ever-present on the leaderboard in majors of late.
He’s finished in the top 10 in half of his 10 career major starts, including three top-three finishes in his past five including a runner-up spot at last year’s Open Championship and a T-3 at this year’s U.S. Open. As such, Xander is one of my Each Way bets at 26.00* to win here, especially as FansBet are paying 1/5 on the first EIGHT places.
Jon more than capable of a Rahm raid
Someone who’s very capable of finishing in the top eight is JON RAHM, who’s a nicely priced Each Way bet at 15.00* to win the Open Championship. He’ll be in good heart after winning the Irish Open for a second time in three years just two weeks ago at a course similar to Portrush.
He was very impressive at Lahinch, as he was at Portstewart two years ago, another course that’s similar to this week’s venue and just down the road from Portrush, but Rahm’s Open record is poor and I’m not sure he’s got enough in his locker to win this tournament yet, but he’s a great links player and has a fantastic record in Ireland, and is bang in form.
Good luck and enjoy the weekend!
Last ten winners
2018 – Francesco Molinari -8
2017 – Jordan Spieth -12
2016 – Henrik Stenson -20
2015 – Zach Johnson -15 (playoff)
2014 – Rory McIlroy -17
2013 – Phil Mickelson -3
2012 – Ernie Els -7
2011 – Darren Clarke -5
2010 – Louis Oosthuizen -16
2009 – Stewart Cink -2 (playoff)
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*odds subject to change.
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