There is always a special feel when The Open returns to its home every five years, but this year’s edition feels a notch above all others.
With Covid having pushed it back and it being the 150th edition of The Open Championship, we already knew that it would be something special.
But when we add all the ruckus around LIV and this potentially being the last Major in a while for several of the defectors, it is taken to another level.
And that’s without mentioning Tiger, who has hinted that this might be his last chance of securing a third Claret Jug around these hollow grounds.
So, what can we come to expect from this weekend? Our resident golfing-guru and previewing-mainstay David Kristiansen has you covered…
Course: The Old Course at St Andrews
Length: 7536 yards (Par 72)
Greens: Fescue – Bent and Poa mix
Architect: Mother nature
DK: Looming in the background is the proposed roll back of clubs and/or ball, and if we get no wind this week, we could get a winning score pushing 30 under par.
This would be something that might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and leaving the USGA and R and A with no choice but to implement a roll back as soon as possible.
With the wind being somewhat down in the early forecast (this is Scotland so might be useless in a couple of days) I foresee wedge game being a key component to a winning formula as many of the par 4s, if not driveable, should leave players with only a flick into many of the greens.
Speaking of the greens they are a mix but mostly fescue and with 14 of the holes sharing greens they are of course huge so I would focus on 3 putt avoidance and maybe not as much on around the green play as usual on an Open course.
Length is, as always, an advantage but with Zach Johnson winning here last time it’s obviously not a necessity. So instead of pure length, I will focus more on someone that finds the correct spots and if they are somewhat long that will be a bonus.
⛳️ A hole in one?
🏌️ Thomas or McIlroy to finish higher?
🏌️ Scheffler or Rahm?
🏌️ Morikawa or Spieth?
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If there is one thing, I think you need to have this week to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday it’s a stellar approach game so anyone who doesn’t tick that box will not find his away onto my betting card come Thursday.
If the conditions stay as forecasted, I predict a winning score just around 20 under par.
Speaking of the conditions I would recommend placing your bets as close to tee off as possible as we will have tee times and a better sense of the weather on Wednesday.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
– Total driving
– Strokes gained approach
– Proximity 75-100 and 100-125 yards
– 3 putt avoidance
– Par 4 scoring
– The Open history/Experience
Justin Thomas 17,00
The reigning PGA Champion surprisingly missed the cut at the Scottish Open last week, but has taken advantage of his free time by walking around The Old course with Tiger over the last three days.
I can’t think of a better preparation than learning from the 2000 and 2005 champion.
His form is solid if we look past last week with three top 5s in his last five starts and if we look at how he bounces back from a missed cut there is also some interesting numbers – he finished in the top 10 after four of his last six missed cuts.
The course should set up perfectly for a guy that ranks 1st in proximity from 75-100 and par 4 scoring, 2nd in 3 putt avoidance and proximity from 100-125 yards over the last 50 rounds.
The one question mark is his Open Championship history which only includes one top 12 finish, but with the likes of Xander Schauffele and Matt Fitzpatrick passing him on the odds board, there is just too much value to pass up on Thomas picking up his 3rd Major Championship.
Viktor Hovland 51,00
My second bet is a buy-low proposal for the Norwegian who finished T12 in his Open Championship debut last year.
While he missed the cut last week, that was all putting and should be easily fixed for a guy who has become a good putter this year, ranking 28th on tour.
He will be able to hide his only real weakness; his around the green game this week is a key reason that I think this will be the first major he will be properly in contention in.
Of the top golfers, he might be the second-best total driver of the golf ball behind only Rory and if the big stick is firing he should be able to drive several off the greens.
Plus, his speed control with the flatstick has been good over the past few months, ranking 27th in 3 putt avoidance.
His professional wins have come at scores off -12, -19, -20(2x) and -23 so – while I am sceptical of him in Majors that play tough where you need to scramble – I think he should fit St Andrews pretty perfectly and we are getting some nice value due to his dip in form.
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