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BlogThe Open Preview and Picks

The Open

July 16th – 19th, 2015

St. Andrews Old Course

St. Andrews, Scotland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,297

Purse: $9.8 million

with $1.79 million to the winner

Defending Champion:
Rory McIlroy (hurt and won’t play)

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 76 of the top 80 in the latest Official World Rankings, with four players not in the field, Rory McIlroy, Chris Kirk, Alexander Noren and Tim Clark.

The field includes 23 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2015.  Those players not in the field are #5 Rory McIlroy who is rehabing a ruptured ligament in his ankle and #20 Chris Kirk who broke his right hand playing with on of his sons.

The field includes 23 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list with McIlroy and Kirk not playing.

The field includes 26 players that have won 30 events on the PGA Tour this year: Sangmoon Bae (Frys.com Open), Ben Martin (Shriners Hospitals); Robert Streb (McGladrey Classic), Ryan Moore (CIMB CLassic), Bubba Watson (WGC-HSBC Champions & Travelers); Nick Taylor (Sanderson Farms Championship); Charley Hoffman (OHL Classic at Mayakoba); Patrick Reed (Hyundai T of C);  Jimmy Walker (Sony Open in Hawaii & Valero Texas Open), Bill Haas (Humana); Jason Day (Farmers); Brooks Koepka (WM Phoenix); Brandt Snedeker (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am), James Hahn (Northern Trust); Padraig Harrington (Honda Classic); Dustin Johnson (WGC-Cadillac); Jordan Spieth (Valspar, Masters, U.S. Open & John Deere); Matt Every (Palmer); J.B. Holmes (Shell Houston); Jim Furyk (RBC Heritage); Justin Rose (Zurich Classic of New Orleans);  Rickie Fowler (Players); Steven Bowditch (Byron Nelson); David Lingmerth (Memorial); Fabian Gomez (FedEx St. Jude) and Danny Lee (Greenbrier).

Those winners not in the field are Alex Cejka (Puerto Rico); Rory McIlroy (WGC-Cadillac Match Play & Wells Fargo) and Chris Kirk (Crowne Plaza Colonial).

The field includes 19 past Open champions:  Phil Mickelson (2013), 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), Mark O’Meara (1998), Justin Leonard (1997), Tom Lehman (1996), John Daly (1995), Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Sandy Lyle (1985) Nick Faldo (1987, ’90 & ’92) 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.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the British Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the British Open.

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.

**NOTE**

One thing to look for is our new GOLFstats IQ.  For those that play in fantasy golf it’s a perfect way to help you pick those players in Draft Kings and Victiv games.  You can customize the list of those in the tournaments, to look back a couple or many years of tournament stats and you can go back a couple or ten weeks prior to the tournament.  On top of that, all the stats are fully sortable to help you pick your six players, we even give you their value for the week to help you chose.

That’s GOLFstats IQ, give it a try and tell us what you think of it

24/7 GOLF

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We have the perfect solution for you.  If you own a Iphone or a Ipad we have developed a perfect app called 24/7 GOLF.

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So check it out, just hit this link to get 24/7 GOLF:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.01.34 AM

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 French Open Travelers BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Memorial Nordea Masters Byron Nelson Irish Open Colonial
Jordan Spieth
(408 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
Danny Lee
(245.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
Kevin Kisner
(222.33 pts)
T35
(15)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
Zach Johnson
(183.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP 6
(60)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(23.33)
DNP T19
(10.33)
Robert Streb
(178.33 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(10.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
Francesco Molinari
(175.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
T25
(25)
DNP T27
(30.67)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(175 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T27
(23)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(171.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
WD
(-3.33)
T13
(24.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(170.33 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP T26
(16)
DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(169.33 pts)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(160 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP 8
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP T2
(33.33)
Soren Kjeldsen
(157.67 pts)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP T47
(3)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(155.67 pts)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(155.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
T27
(30.67)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP
David Lingmerth
(150.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T33
(5.67)
James Morrison
(143 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brooks Koepka
(142 pts)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(42.67)
T3
(60)
T52
(0)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP
Luke Donald
(134.67 pts)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T58
(0)
T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(133.33 pts)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Paul Casey
(130 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP T39
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
Branden Grace
(129.67 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T4
(106.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Steven Bowditch
(123 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
T52
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DQ
(-1.67)
Louis Oosthuizen
(121.67 pts)
DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(133.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
Rickie Fowler
(118.67 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP
Graham Delaet
(118.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T53
(0)
Greg Owen
(118 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(117.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP T25
(33.33)
T8
(33.33)
T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jaco Van Zyl
(115.67 pts)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP 3
(90)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Adam Scott
(115.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(106.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
Eddie Pepperell
(113 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP WD
(-5)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier French Open Travelers BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Memorial Nordea Masters Byron Nelson Irish Open Colonial
Pelle Edberg
(-40 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Ben Curtis
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP
Matteo Manassero
(-33.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matt Every
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP WD
(-6.67)
WD
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Tringale
(-21 pts)
DNP T53
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
David Lipsky
(-21 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
George Coetzee
(-20 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T70
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Edoardo Molinari
(-20 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Gunn Yang
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
Hunter Mahan
(-19.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP T53
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

This year is my 40th year of coming to the British Open and my eight Open at St. Andrews.  I have been very lucky to have been at St. Andrews around 20 times and played the course many occasions.  It never gets old driving in and seeing the town for the first time, to think golf has been played here for over 600 years.

The town hasn’t changed since the first time I saw it in 1975, but the landscape of the course itself has drastically changed.  The first Open I attended in 1978 there were low level stands behind the 18th green, alongside the first fairway and behind the 17th green.  This year the stands are double the size, matter of fact you can barley see the top of the Hamilton Hall which is behind the 18th green.  There are stands all over the course, last count 20 of them that have seating for 20,000 fans.  The course is flat and easy to walk, one oddity is that you can only walk down the right side of the fairway and access is blocked around the loop which is holes 7th green to 11th green.

I say this a lot for those that love golf, if you ever want to attend a tournament try to make it for a British Open at St. Andrews, it’s a treat of a lifetime.

So anything interesting for this year?

  • Lot’s of storylines.  First you have the fact of Rory McIlroy not defending.  For those that think it tarnishes this championship your dead wrong. Yes Rory is missed but on Sunday evening someone will be in front of 50,000 fans and declared “The champion golfer of the year”
  • What about Jordan?  He jetted in from the John Deere and was on the course this afternoon.  He looked in great shape, he must of found some time to sleep on the plane.  But you could sense that it was down to business and he and caddie Michael Greller were working hard to familiarize themselves with the course.  Many say that you have to know the course well and that is true.  Your caddie is very important, but both Spieth and Greller have done a lot of homework on St. Andrews.  Spieth went so far to buy and install in his home a full swing simulator that has holes from the Old Course and he has played it many a times.  Jordan did play the old course once when he was over in Scotland playing on the Walker Cup team in 2011.  The matches were up the road at Royal Aberdeen and the team did play the old course.  So the big question will be, can he learn the course in just three days?  Tony Lema answered that question in 1964, only playing two practice round before the championship.  One thing Lema had in his favor was his caddie, he used Arnold Palmer’s caddie Tip Anderson, who grew up in St. Andrews, caddie there and knew every blade of grass.  I bet and spent an afternoon with tip 20 years ago and he told me that he just handed a club to Lema and told him to either hit it softly or hit it hard.  Anderson also read every putt for Lema and was a key part to the victory.  So for those that feel that Speith will be not ready I couldn’t disagree more.  For those that think he will suffer from jet lag and be tired I have one word, hogwash.  One thing you can book on, the kid is on a roll we haven’t seen since Tiger Woods in his prime.  Spieth is young enough that he doesn’t fear anything and feels that he can accomplish everything, which could be his best weapon for his week at St. Andrews.
  • What about Dustin?  He was at St. Andrews on Monday and said he was fresh from Ireland were he spent a couple of days getting ready by playing at Portmarnock and Royal Dublin.  He told a group of reporters that were grilling him over his final hole disaster at Chamber Bay by saying that it’s ancient history and doesn’t bother him.  He feels that just like the mishap at Whistling Straits in 2009, Chambers Bay is a learning experience and that he learned a lot from what happened.  Asked on what he thought Jordan Spieth’s chances are in winning the third leg of the slam, he said that he was playing with him on Thursday and Friday and everyone will have to wait and see what happens.
  • What about Rickie?  Boy he is cocky and you can feel the vibes that he is playing well and will be in contention on Sunday.  He won the Scottish Open over the weekend with a great finish of birdies on 3 of his final 4 holes so he will be a guy to watch.
  • What about Tiger?  Have to say that I for one think that he has a chance.  St. Andrews is one of Woods favorite courses and he was playing it on Sunday.  Funny thing, with the news from National Enquirer that Tiger was involved romantically with Jason Dufner’s ex-wife Amanda, those rumors seemed far-fetched as Tiger played on Sunday with Dufner.  Woods was on BBC and saying that his game is “heading in the right direction” but of course we have grown not to believe a word that Woods says.  Still for the first time in a while, when talking to reporters many feel that Woods could have a great week and could be in contention.  Guess we will have to wait and see what the first round brings.
  • What about St. Andrews?  The course looks great and green.  Have heard many talk about how nice and true the greens are and how it will be nice to play a course with grass on the greens, something that wasn’t found over the weekend at Chambers Bay.  The one thing I fear is that St. Andrews is only as tough as the weather.  If they have days like Saturday and Sunday, nice conditions with no wind, this course could get torched and the record of 63 in the majors could finally be broken.  Of course par is 72 making it tougher, but both the par 5s are reachable and the par 4s 7, 9, 10 and 12 could be driveable.

So this brings up an interesting question, who do we pick this week?  The good news is that there won’t be much wind so American’s like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker could go low

One thing about the Open Championship, you won’t find a fridge player like Ben Martin (who won in Las Vegas) winning. That just doesn’t happen in the Open Championship; you have winners that are harden with experience, just look at the list of champions the last four years, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke.  So the British Open is a different beast and is much easier to predict.

Open Championship information:

The British Open traces its roots back to October 17, 1860, at the Links at Prestwick. Eight professionals vied for the inaugural Open Championship, they made three trips around the 12-hole golf course at Prestwood. Willie Park Sr.’s 174 gave him a two-stroke victory over Old Tom Morris. The original prize was the Challenge Belt.  It’s interesting to note that a month later on November 6th, 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States.

In 1873, Tom Kidd’s victory at St. Andrews was monumental. It was the first-Open Championship held at St. Andrews, and with Kidd’s victory, he took home the first-ever Claret Jug. The jug was manufactured at a cost of 30 pounds by Mackay Cunningham & Co. of Edinburgh.  Now to put that in prospective, 30 pounds today would be worth about 50 dollars.  Not much money in today’s world but here is a better view of it.  In searching the value of the British pound in 1860, it had the purchasing power of about 63.10 today.  So if you multiply 63.10, 30 times you get 1,893 pounds which mean in today’s money they paid about $3,000 for makeup the original Claret Jug.

By 1892, The Open Championship had moved to a 72-hole format, 36-holes over two days. With the changes to Open Championship format, play began to increase. As play increased, a cut was instituted, beginning in 1898, to limit the number of competitors over the final 36 holes. The increase in competition led to a decrease in scoring. Jack White’s 296 in the 1904 Open Championship marked the first time a competitor shot an aggregate score under 300. His final round 68 also set a record for the lowest round by a golfer. The Open Championship went on a six-year hiatus beginning in 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I. When the tournament resurfaced in 1920, it did so under new ownership. The R&A was entrusted with the task of managing the event. To this day, the R&A still manages the event.

The R&A quickly installed changes to The Open Championship. The event spanned three days, 18 holes on each of the first two days and 36 on the final day. Also, The R&A began charging admission to see the event. A year later, The R&A began to produce a replica Claret Jug that is awarded to each year’s champion. The original jug resides in the clubhouse of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. The suspension of the Open from 1939 to 1946 due to World War II represents the longest gap between Open Championships. Sam Snead won the 1946 U.S. Open at St. Andrews, defeating Bobby Locke.

The 1955 Open marked a new era for the event. BBC broadcasted the tournament on television for the first time. By 1966, the Open Championship was being played over four days, 18 holes each day. ABC, for the first time, broadcasted a live feed of the event in America in 1982. In 1977, Regional Qualifying around England and Scotland was introduced on a permanent basis, to help organize qualifying in which there were two levels, first local qualifying and then moving on the week of the championship. It had been an experiment at the 1926 Open, but abandoned after just one year. In 1980, the Open Championship was moved to its current format, 18 holes over four days, with the tournament concluding on Sunday. A decade later, in 1990, the event set an attendance record with over 208,000 spectators showing up to watch the tournament at St. Andrews.  One more major change in 2005 saw international qualifying, with different sites setup in Australia, South Africa, Asia, America and for the European players to try and qualify in their country instead of having to fly off to England.  Today things are a bit different, there are two ways you can get in.  One is either winning an important event, being high up the world rankings, being a top winner on either the PGA Tour, European Tour, South African Tour and Asian Tour.  Or you can get through in qualifying tournaments in which there are nine events in which the top players for that week can get into the Open and five qualifying sites, one in Thailand and the other four in England just two weeks ago.

The 2015 Open Championship will be the 144th installment of the tournament. It will be held on the Old Course at St. Andrews for the 29th time, it’s list of winners include a who’s, who of golf including Hall of Famers like J.H. Taylor, James Braid, Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Denny Shute, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.  Since World War II, every champion from St. Andrews has been a Hall of Famer except for Tony Lema, John Daly and Louis Oosthuizen.

Course information:

  • St. Andrews Old Course
  • St. Andrews, Scotland
  • 7,297 yards     Par 36-36–72
  • Golf has been played at St. Andrews since the 14th century and the home of the Royal and Ancient is located just behind the 1st tee.  Even though there is no real date for when the course opened we do know that it was a 22 holes until 1764 when the R&A suggested that the first four holes should become two, thus converting the four holes on the way home into two.  Since then 18 holes has been the norm for courses.  Another major change was that the orginial course played the same fairways and greens.  So golfers struck off from the first hole and played 11 holes out to the end before turning and playing 11 holes home, the same holes as on the outward journey.  So with the increase of play the rulers of St. Andrews realized that the fairways would have to be separate.  They were able to share greens, with seven greens being used on 14 holes and four holes (1, 9, 17 & 18) getting there own greens  Since this change took place the layout of the holes haven’t changed.  Yes, in the beginning there were close to 500 bunkers and since close to 400 have been removed.  Today the Old Course has a number of particular physical features including 112 bunkers, some of which are especially famous, e.g. ‘Hell’ on the long 14th, ‘Strath’ on the short 11th and the Road bunker at what is probably the most famous golf hole in the world, the 17th or Road Hole (so called because a road – off which the ball must be played – runs hard against the back edge of the green).   Another peculiar feature of the Old Course is the double greens where the outward and inward holes are cut on the same putting surface. These greens are large up to 13,500 square feet, not surprisingly, and golfers can be faced with putts of almost 100 yards.  The Old Course is also unusual in that it starts and finishes in the town, but its truly remarkable feature is that in today’s modern golfing world, a course which has evolved over six centuries and not designed by an architect, remains a true test of championship golf. Anytime the Open comes to St. Andrews it’s a big deal.  It’s the event’s most popular venue as over 200,000 will attend this week.  In 2000, 239,000 flowed to watch Tiger win, while in 2005, 223,000 came through the turnstiles to watch Woods win again.  The last time it was played in 2010, 201,000 people came so a lot of people will be out this week

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

In the past 23 years its been won by grinders like Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman, Darren Clarke and Stewart Cink who may not look pretty but knows how to place shots in the right spots.  There have also been superstars like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who were expected to win.  And then you had your superstar that wasn’t expect to win in Phil Mickelson, do the job.  Its been won by great tour players like Ernie Els, David Duval and Justin Leonard who capped off their PGA Tour careers with their first win in a major.  But unfortunately the British Open has been won by guys that fell out of the limelight right after their wins.  Ian Baker-Finch, Mark O’Meara, Paul Lawrie, David Duval, Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis all come to mind, since there win they have fallen from grace and have struggled with there games.  .

The field is great, 90 of the top-100 in the world rankings.  With the exception of Rory McIlroy every great player in the world is here and ready to go.  Right now St. Andrews is soft and will play easy, but all of that will change.  The course needs some wind to dry things out.

Key stat for the winner:

  • The ability to adjust to the elements, especially wind and rain, is often crucial at the Open Championship. Over the years wind has played a big role in winning at St. Andrews.  Because of the way Kel Nagle was able to adjust to the win in 1960 cost Arnold Palmer the third wheel of him being a grandslam winner that year.  Being able to adjust to weather conditions is what helped Nick Faldo to victory in 1990 and John Daly in 1995.  Right now the forecast is calling for showers every day,  with very heavy rain on Friday with a possible downpour on Friday.  Winds are forecasted for Thursday and Friday with lots of wind over the weekend.
  • The course has a bit of quirkiness in it because the front side goes out and the back side comes back in.  Every hole, except for the two par 3s have duel fairway’s and for 12 of the holes it seems that all of the trouble is right and you can hit it left all day long.  But the true secret of playing St. Andrews correctly it hunging the right hand side of the fairway.  Any drive right risks grave conscious, but if you can control the drive by hitting long and to the right side of the fairway, you will have the perfect entrance to the greens and a big advantage.
  • Good lag putters – St. Andrews have the biggest greens in the world, 14 of them are shared which means that in some cases putts over hundred feet could happen.  So those that avoid three putts will have a great shot.
  • Avoiding bunkers is always a key at the British Open, and St. Andrews is no different. There are 112 bunkers on the course and you can only see about half of them while playing a shot.  The key in Tiger Woods win in 2000 was not hitting into a single bunker, if a player can do that this week he will be among the top of the leaderboard.
  • British Opens have produced an assortment of winners in the last dozen years, making predictions difficult.  First off, since 2010 every champion has played the week before at the Scottish Open.  With so many playing in that event, the odds are in favor of a winner coming from Gullane.  Here are some other things. Stewart Cink became an oddity in his win in 2009, beating Tom Watson in a playoff.  Padraig Harrington two in a row, Tiger Woods had won three six years and David Duval and Ernie Els were near the top of the rankings when they won. But Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton were two of the most surprising winners in major championship history and Paul Lawrie wasn’t far behind. Somewhere in the middle was 1998 champion  was Mark O’Meara.
  •  The list of champions at St. Andrews is top-notch.  Can’t beat the fact that five of the last six winners are Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, John Daly and Tiger Woods.  The list has some other great Hall-of-Fame winners in J.H. Taylor, James Braid, Jock Hutchison, Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson and Sam Snead.  Just seems that top names like to win at St. Andrews.
  • So what will it take to win? Past major champions have won multiple majors and there hasn’t been a fluke winner at St. Andrews since Dick Burton won in 1939.  Also look for players who have a strong record in past British Opens as it demonstrates an affinity for the unique challenges of links golf. Long hitting is a big advantage and other than maybe Faldo, most of the recent winners since Nicklaus in 1970 have been long off the tee.
  • The weather forecast is not very good for this week so don’t look for any fair-game winners here.  You are going to have to be good in fowl, wet, windy weather to have a chance for victory.

Some other keys to playing well this week:

  • Good bunker play – yes you want to avoid them, but for those that can escape and get it up and down it will help.
  • Some will say that length and brute strength will play an important role this week.  That’s not how Tiger did it 10 years ago, but things are different today.  The longer you drive it, the more of an advantage you will have.  But with heavy rough that will be ticker when wet, look for more irons off the tee.
  • Putting is going to be a premium this week.  The greens are flat and slow under the standards of the top professionals so look for lots of 7, 8, 9 and 10 footers to be made.
  • Will St. Andrews have a surprise winner or will it be a marquee name nobody can predict.  Look at the past, it has a history of any kind of Champion.  Last year at Hoylake it didn’t surprise me that Rory McIlroy won, the same in 2013 at Muirfield, it didn’t surprise me that Phil Mickelson won, he was a hall of famer, joining other hall of fame winners of Muirfield.  The point is, favorites tend to win at St. Andrews and yes Louis Oosthuizen broke the trend a bit in 2010.
  • Scrambler.  Green are a bit small and a player must have the skills to get it up and down from off the green or from greenside bunkers.
  • Player that doesn’t hit it into bunkers.  One of the key stats for Tiger Woods win in 2000 and Justin Leonard’s win at Troon in 1997 is that they didn’t hit it in a bunker during the 72 holes.  If that gets repeated this week, that person will win the Claret Jug.
  • Last but not least, don’t listen to any of the experts that make picks, that includes me.  Golf has become close to impossible to gauge and picking a winner is almost impossible.  The game has gotten so refined with swing gurus, mind coaches, fitness coaches and dietary experts that golfers can change from playing terrible to winning in a matter of a week.  Just look at a couple of the winners of late.  Danny Lee came into the Greenbrier not playing well but found some magic and won.  Talking about despair how about Tom Gillis last week, he went from playing poorly to almost winning.  But in a matter of days was able to change everything around and almost won.  Yes golf has gotten very complicated these days.

 

Who to watch for at the British Open

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T12 T32 T9 T2 T14 CUT

The course is perfect for his game, he can overpower it and with some good putting win. Remember this, for everyone the course is a par 72. But for Johnson who can get home in two on the pair of par 5s and the ability of driving 4 of the par 4s if conditions are good, Johnson’s par will be 69 He quietly spent the weekend playing links golf in Ireland so he is ready to go.

Henrik Stenson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T39 2 68 T3 T13 T3 CUT T48 T34

Again we write his name as a top pick, his record is very good at the British, including a T-3rd in 2010. He is long overdue a major, could be his for the taking this week.

Tiger Woods

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
69 T6 T3 T23 CUT T12 Win Win T9 T4

A name I haven’t written in his space in a while. Hey we won’t know until Thursday but many feel that he is close. Now what “close” means is for discussion but he is healthy, his last start he hit the ball great and he loves this course including his two Open wins in 2000 and 2005. Not many course that Tiger can dominate, think this is a very important week for him if he really wants to be consider a “contender” again.

Best of the rest:

Jordan Spieth

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T36 T44

With all that he has done in the last three months it’s hard to fathom that he has a great shot of winning the third leg of the grand slam. With greens of over 13,000 square feet, those that avoid 3 putts will rule. Spieth is T-9th in 3-putt avoidance on tour. With those large greens Spieth will have a lot of putts in the 10 to 25 foot range, Speith is T-5th on putts made between 15 and 20 feet and 1st in putts made from 20 to 25 feet. As for strokes gained putting, Spieth is 8th in that stat so if he can putt like that this week, he could be three for three in majors won this year. One thing you can book on, the kid is on a roll we haven’t seen since Tiger Woods in his prime. Spieth is young enough that he doesn’t fear anything and feels that he can accomplish everything, which could be his best weapon for his week at St. Andrews.

Jason Day

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T58 T32 T30 T60

Seems like his medication is more controllable now, just think he is ready to win a major. Has the game and can putt as good as the best.

Rickie Fowler

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T2 CUT T31 T5 T14

Watch him, you can rest assure he will finish in the top-ten, possibly even better. He showed that his game is ready with the great finish at the Scottish Open, he would not surprise me with a win.

Paul Casey

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T47 CUT T54 T3 T47 T7 T27 71 CUT T20 CUT

Was T-3rd in 2010 at St. Andrews. Has a lot going for him including a happy home life again, he has the game he just has to go out and show us.

Solid contenders

Adam Scott

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 T3 2 T25 T27 CUT T16 T27 T8 T34 T42 CUT

This is not the best of golf courses because of his weak putting. But if he can get in the right mood with Steve Williams on the bag anything is possible.

Brandt Snedeker

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T58 T11 T3 CUT CUT CUT

This guy has the game for the British Open, just has to show us. Great putter, 5th in strokes gained putting and is ranked T14th in putting inside 10 feet, all important barometers for playing well at St. Andrews. He is also 4th in scrambling and despite the length to over power the course, he can do very well if the putter is working and he is able to understand the course and brave the elements.

Matt Kuchar

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T54 T15 T9 CUT T27 CUT CUT CUT

Has only played once good in the British Open and that was in 2012. I think playing in the Scottish Open was important for him along with finishing 2nd.

Hideki Matsuyama

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T39 T6

Has shown us that he can play great everywhere, he would be a great pick and someone that could sneak up and go under the radar.

Long shots that could come through:

Kevin Kisner

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
First time playing in this event

Doesn’t hit it far but does hit it straight ranked 16th in driving accuracy. He is also a good scrambler, ranking 11th in that and is 8th in 3-putt avoidance, which is great on a course that have greens over 13,000 square feet. But the one stat that bodes very well for him, he ranks 5th in putting inside 10 feet which is a very important stat for playing well at St. Andrews since you are left with a lot of five to 15 foot putts.

Luke Donald

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T64 CUT T5 CUT T11 T5 T63 T35 T52 CUT CUT

Has not put 4 solid rounds in a while. Has given us indications last week at the Scottish Open that his game is close, he is another great putter that could get things rolling this week.

Joost Luiten

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
CUT T45 T63

May be good this year, still has a lot to show us at the British Open.

Worst Bets:

Bubba Watson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
CUT T32 T23 T30 CUT CUT

Sorry but he is a disaster everytime he crosses that Atlantic. In six Open Championships has not finished higher than 23rd and missed three cuts, including at St. Andrews in 2010. So despite playing well with a win at the Travelers and T-13th at Greenbrier I wouldn’t put much faith in Bubba’s abilities to tame the Old Course.

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