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BlogThe Open Championship Preview and Picks

British Open

July 18 – 21, 2013

Muirfield

Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,192

Purse: $8 million

with $1.4 million to the winner

Defending Champion:
Ernie Els

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

73 of the top 75 in the latest Official World Golf Rankings are in the field.   The only ones not in the field is #10 Steve Stricker, who decided to stay at home with his family and #75 Charles Howell III. Of the top 100, 88 are in the field the only additional ones who are not here: #77 Joost Luiten (first alternate), #83 David Lingmerth, #85 Brendon de Jonge, #88 Ryan Palmer, #92 Bae Sang-moon, #94 Kevin Chappell, #95 Chris Kirk, #96 Pablo Larrazabal, #97 John Merrick, and #100 Rafael Cabrera.

The field includes 25 of the Top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players include Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose, Bill Haas, Jason Day, Kevin Streelman, Adam Scott, Boo Weekley, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, D.A. Points, Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Harris English, Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Charles Howell III, Martin Laird & David Lingmerth.

The field includes 16 past champions: Ernie Els (2012 & ’02), Darren Clarke (2011), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Stewart Cink (2009), Padraig Harrington (2007 & ’08), Tiger Woods (2006, ’05 & ’00), Todd Hamilton (2004), Ben Curtis (2003),  David Duval (2001), Paul Lawrie (1999), Justin Leonard (1997), Tom Lehman (1996), Nick Faldo (1987, ’90 & ’92), Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Sandy Lyle (1985)  and Tom Watson (1983, ’82, ’80, ’77 & ’75)

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the British Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at British Open in the last five years or check out our brand new and sortable 8-year glance at the British Open.

A a good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the British Open

Player John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Classic French Open AT&T National Irish Open Travelers Championship BMW International U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Classic Lyoness Open Memorial Tournament Nordea Masters
Phil Mickelson
(322 pts)
DNP
 
Win
(132)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T2
(133.33)
T2
(66.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Justin Rose
(217.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T13
(24.67)
DNP
 
Win
(176)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T8
(16.67)
DNP
 
Bill Haas
(190.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(45)
DNP
 
Win
(132)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(26.67)
DNP
 
Ernie Els
(189 pts)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Win
(88)
T4
(106.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(4.33)
DNP
 
Thomas Bjorn
(170.33 pts)
DNP
 
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
T8
(50)
DNP
 
T18
(32)
DNP
 
2
(66.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(26.67)
Jason Day
(165.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T21
(29)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T2
(133.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T41
(3)
DNP
 
Henrik Stenson
(158.33 pts)
DNP
 
T3
(90)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T10
(26.67)
T21
(38.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T41
(3)
DNP
 
Billy Horschel
(156.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T30
(20)
DNP
 
T61
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(106.67)
T10
(26.67)
DNP
 
T41
(3)
DNP
 
Jonas Blixt
(150 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
Win
(132)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T43
(4.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
2
(33.33)
Richard Sterne
(147 pts)
DNP
 
T31
(19)
DNP
 
2
(100)
DNP
 
T22
(28)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Harris English
(143.67 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T34
(16)
DNP
 
T43
(4.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Win
(88)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Graham Delaet
(139.67 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T30
(20)
DNP
 
T8
(50)
DNP
 
3
(60)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T21
(9.67)
DNP
 
Bernd Wiesberger
(139.33 pts)
DNP
 
T31
(19)
DNP
 
T13
(37)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(53.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
3
(30)
Jamie Donaldson
(137 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T6
(60)
DNP
 
T10
(40)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T32
(24)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T11
(13)
Brian Davis
(127 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP
 
T30
(20)
DNP
 
T8
(50)
DNP
 
T30
(13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T35
(10)
DNP
 
T8
(16.67)
DNP
 
Hunter Mahan
(125.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T24
(17.33)
DNP
 
T4
(106.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T16
(11.33)
DNP
 
Nicolas Colsaerts
(122.33 pts)
DNP
 
T8
(50)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T21
(29)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T10
(53.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
Rickie Fowler
(111.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T21
(29)
DNP
 
T13
(24.67)
DNP
 
T10
(53.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(4.33)
DNP
 
Graeme McDowell
(108.67 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Win
(132)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Martin Laird
(108.67 pts)
DNP
 
T5
(70)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T54
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T21
(38.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T53
(0)
DNP
 
Shane Lowry
(104.33 pts)
DNP
 
T31
(19)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T5
(70)
DNP
 
T22
(18.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
Bubba Watson
(104.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T30
(20)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
4
(53.33)
DNP
 
T32
(24)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T29
(7)
DNP
 
Gareth Maybin
(103.33 pts)
DNP
 
T5
(70)
DNP
 
T8
(50)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Scott Stallings
(100.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T23
(27)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T53
(0)
T2
(66.67)
DNP
 
T4
(26.67)
DNP
 
Jason Dufner
(100 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T4
(106.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the British Open

Player John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Classic French Open AT&T National Irish Open Travelers Championship BMW International U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Classic Lyoness Open Memorial Tournament Nordea Masters
Darren Clarke
(-36.67 pts)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Marcus Fraser
(-33.33 pts)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
D.A. Points
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T54
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
Steven Fox
(-33.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
Estanislao Goya
(-33 pts)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T52
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T74
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T50
(0.33)
Niclas Fasth
(-30 pts)
DNP
 
T57
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Thorbjorn Olesen
(-30 pts)
DNP
 
67
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Bud Cauley
(-28 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T64
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T34
(5.33)
DNP
 
Scott Jamieson
(-23.33 pts)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T59
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T58
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Tim Clark
(-20 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T58
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz about the Open Championship:

Feel like I am in San Diego.  The weather has been perfect, it’s hard to believe that it’s going to be in the mid-80s over the weekend.  The course is already dry, brown and fast so if they could get some afternoon winds look for a great Open Championship.

 

A little bit about the history of Muirfield:

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is called Muirfield by all.  It is one of the more stricter private clubs that is found in golf, with many restrictions for those privileged enough to play it.  One perfect example, four-ball matches are forbidden so if four of you show up for a game expect to play alternate shots.

Other than that I find Muirfield to be the best, yes I said the best course that I have ever seen.  It has a wonderful mix of holes, with the front side playing clockwise with the back nine playing counter-clockwise inside of the front nine.  This is one of the keys to Muirfield, both nines finish at the clubhouse which is very rare for a links course in Britian.  With the routing of the nines you only find one stretch, holes 3, 4 and 5 in which hole consecutively go in one direction which makes the course very fair in drastic wind conditions.  The holes that do have bends in them have an equally number not to favor faders or hookers.  Also of the 18 holes only one hole, 11, has a blind tee shot which is another thing that makes it great.  All shots to the greens can be seen from the fairway of tees of the par 3s so in some peoples minds Muirfield is the fairest test of golf.

The course has 146 bunkers spread around it and all of them are located in fair places, not hidden away like many links course have.  Muirfield is also one of those rare link courses that you can play through the air, like you find on a course in America.  You can play a run-up shot but through the air is more the ticket.

Another thing that makes Muirfield special is the overall design hasn’t changed in over 80 years and other than added length its the same course that Walter Hagen won the British Open on in 1929.  While the big news of the majors in America is adding length with par 4s just a notch under 500 yards, you won’t find that at Muirfield.  The longest par 4 is the 14th hole at 475 and there are only three other holes, the 18th at 470 yards, the sixth at 461 yards and the tenth at 469 yards that are over 450 yards.  You won’t find many Major Championship venues that only have four holes over 450 yards.  On the reverse side four holes, two, three, eleven and twelve are under 400 yards, another thing you won’t find.

Muirfield has been used a lot by the Royal and Ancient, holding 15 British Opens and ten British Amateur Championships.  It also held two Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches and is still the only Scottish course to hold the Ryder Cup, playing host to the matches in 1973.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the British Open:

Key stat for the winner:

A marquee winner, thats been the norm. Of the 13 different Open champions in the 15 different Muirfield Opens, 12 of the 13 winners are in the World Hall of Fame.  The only one not in is 1935 champion Alf Perry.  No other venue can boast a higher percentage of Hall of Fame members and only one has as many.  (Of the 28 Opens at St. Andrews, of the 23 different champions only 12 of the winners are Hall of fame members, so it ties Murifield but has had almost twice as many championships played). Taking this a step further, of the 13 different Open champions at Muirfield they have won a total of 82 major championships.  If you look at the top-18 major winners of all time, 8 of them have won at Muirfield.

If you look at those that were runner-up at Muirfield, that also is a list of major championship winners.  Of the 18 different runner-ups, ten of them are winners of major championships: John Ball, J.H. Taylor (twice), Harry Vardon (twice), Johnny Farrell, Alf Padgham, Fred Daly, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Paul Azinger and Steve Elkington.

So the list of those at the top at Muirfield is nothing short of stellar.

 

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Player that drives the ball the straightest.  Muirfield may not have the narrowest fairways but does have the toughest rough to get out of especially if you venture too far off the fairway.
  • Need for patience.  This is one of those British Open courses that par is your friend, so don’t look for low scoring.
  • Scrambler.  Green are a bit small and a player must have the skills to get it up and down from either long grass or greenside bunkers.
  • Be able to play in all conditions.  Just like any course on the British Open rota, Muifield is right next to the North Sea and weather conditions won’t be the same for all four days.  So a player will have to be able to play under dry, sunny conditions along with windy conditions and have the patience to play in any conditions.
  • Player that hits lots of greens.  Not only is hitting fairways important but the winner will be the player that hits the most greens.  The horrors of Muirfield await those just off the greens so its always best to get the ball on the green in regulation.
  • Putting.  Its always a key to any championship, especially those putts from the four to ten foot range.  Since the greens aren’t that large it will be important to make those 15 to 20 footers for birdies, greens are pretty flat.
  • Now what does all of this mean?  Another win for Tiger Woods as he is best suited for Muirfield

 

Who to watch for at the British Open

Best Bets:

Tiger Woods

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T3 T23 CUT T12 Win Win T9 T4 T28 T25

Ok I buy into the Kool-Aid that possibly his elbow was the reason for his bad play at the Memorial and U.S. Open. But I still feel that he is the best on a dry, fast course and that the history of Muirfield tells us only the best of the best wins.

Phil Mickelson

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
CUT T2 T48 T19 CUT T22 T60 3 T59 T66 T30

Seven years ago he was always on how “don’t pick” list. Now he knows the secrets of playing links courses and he is hot as a pistol winning the Scottish Open. Also would be funny that the third leg of the grand slam would come at the British Open before the U.S. Open.

Graeme McDowell

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T5 CUT T23 T34 T19 CUT T61 T11 CUT

Of late he either wins or misses the cut, this week the course is good for him and I think he has a great week.

Best of the rest:

Hideki Matsuyama

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
First time playing in this event

The great sleeper pick, yes he isn’t a superstar yet outside Japan, but this kid will be great and win a few majors in the years to come.

Ernie Els

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
Win CUT CUT T8 T7 T4 3 T34 2 T18 Win T3

The sentimental favorite, yes he won at the BMW in Germany, yes he is the defending champion and yes he won at Muirfield 11 years ago.

Adam Scott

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
2 T25 T27 CUT T16 T27 T8 T34 T42 CUT CUT T47

Another great striker of the ball that could over power Muirfield. Also looking for a bit of redemption after what happened last year.

Justin Rose

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
CUT T44 CUT T13 T70 T12 CUT T22 T30

Would love to win back to back majors. Has the game to accomplish this feat,

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
First time playing in this event

Solid contenders

Luke Donald

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T5 CUT T11 T5 T63 T35 T52 CUT CUT CUT

This is another of those good courses for short hitters, if he plays smart and keeps it in the fairway could be in the running.

Sergio Garcia

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
CUT T9 T14 T38 T51 2 T5 T5 CUT T10 T8 T9

Many forget he was T8th at Muirfield in 2002, he can’t seem to do the right thing to make a win possible, but these are always the ones you least expect to do well.

Dustin Johnson

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T9 T2 T14 CUT

Haven’t heard much about him but his track record on links course is great, look for him to contend.

Matt Kuchar

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T9 CUT T27 CUT CUT CUT CUT

Another one of those guys that can do well at Muirfield, if he puts his mind to it.

Long shots that could come through:

Jordan Spieth

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
First time playing in this event

He may be a rookie at playing in the British Open but he is very experienced in playing well on any golf course.

Brooks Koepka

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
First time playing in this event

Has won three times on the Challenge Tour this year, was the low qualifier, this kid can play and will impress on lot.

Branden Grace

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T77 T43

Has a good record on dry, firm courses. Could be a big surprise this week.

Worst Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T60 T25 T3 T47 T42

Sorry but he hasn’t shown us much this year. Needs to sort out his game.

Lee Westwood

2012 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02 ’01
T45 CUT 2 T3 T67 T35 T31 CUT 4 CUT CUT T47

At a very low point in his career, has lost a bit of confidence.