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BlogWed. thoughts before the start

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 (won’t defend)

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Wednesday thoughts:

Have been very lucky the last couple of years, the weather at the British Open has been really good.  Hard to believe that the last Open Championship plunged with poor weather was back in 2008 at Royal Birkdale.

All that is changing, I have been in England since last Thursday and the weather couldn’t of been any better until today (Wed).  In walking over to the course at 10 this morning, it was a very light drizzle, but it grew to a heavy rain.  As I write this the sun has peaked out and I ran out to get some of the last bits of sunshine because Armageddon is on the way.

I have been lucky, in the eight Open’s I have attended at St. Andrews the weather has been good.  We did have some days of wind, like the second round in 2010 which caused Rory McIlroy to go from a 63 in the first round to 80 in the windy second round.  Now before my first one in 1978, some of the previous one’s had some terrible weather.  In 1960 the weather was so bad in the first round they had to cancel play.  That was the year that players and the media realized and came up with the term “luck of the draw”

You all will hear that term this year because the forecast is for good weather on Thursday morning, followed by heavy rain, and win Thursday afternoon.  That will carry over to Friday morning, but skies will clear up for the afternoon folks.  So if your making a pick, be sure you take a player who has an early Thursday, late Friday tee time.  Here are those that will get the luck of the draw; Retief Goosen (7:49am), Hunter Mahan & Luke Donald (8:00am), Brandt Snedeker (8:33am), J.B. Holmes (8:44am), Bubba Watson & Ian Poulter (9:00am), Sergio Garcia (9:11), Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama & Dustin Johnson (9:33) and Tiger Woods & Jason Day (9:55am).

Now for those that aren’t as lucky, Stephen Gallacher & Ryan Moore (2:01pm), Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer & Jimmy Walker (2:12pm), Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson & Matt Kuchar (2:34pm), Justin Rose & Rickie Fowler (2:45), Jim Furyk, Paul Casey and Branden Grace (2:56pm).  We have to give a medal out to Taichi Teshmia, Rikard Karlberg and Robert Dinwiddle who got the 4:13 tee time, good luck to them.

The Golf Course – One thing that you don’t have to adjust your TV back home will be the colors, yes the Old Course is a bright green and very lush. Many have talked about how slow the greens are, I have never seen an Open course as lush as St. Andrews is.  My first thought on Saturday when I saw it was God someone could shot 58 on her.  With the forecast of high winds over the weekend that’s not going to happen, but scores could go as low as 20 under.  A writer asked Peter Dawson, the man in charge of the Open for the R&A, if St. Andrews could not be the challenge and be forced off the rota and Dawson answered with a firm no and a big smile.  Couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to Glacier National Park in Montana.  The park is famous for it’s spectacular glaciers, but with the warming trend the last 50 years it’s now predicted that the glacier’s will be gone in 20 years.  I’m afraid the same for St. Andrews, that in 20 years time this course may not be able to handle the on slot from the best players in the world.  I could see it walking around yesterday and today, several holes can be overpowered, like 18.  In old days (the day of persimmon drivers, a really big drive just went past the road that runs across the fairway.  Now, everyone is having a go for the green, I saw half a dozen drives close and on the green, also saw one roll it over to the back of the green.  There are several holes like this, nine, ten, and 12.  So with two par 5s that can be hit in two, the par could be reduced to 69-70.  One thing we won’t hear from the players is complaining on how bad the greens are, they are very, very lush.  Last year I spent a couple of days with announcer Peter Alliss and his wife Jackie at their home outside London.  After a drink or two, the conversation came up to the Open being played at St. Andrews in nine months time.  I just happened to say, I don’t think there is much left for St. Andrews in the Open and the table went quiet.  After a few seconds of stillness in which I knew that I said the wrong thing, Peter said, “there is a lot of life to the old lady and the amazing thing about her is that nothing needs to be updated or changed, she will always bring that special challenge.”  Guess we will see whether Peter’s thoughts are words of wisdom.

Jordan Spieth – Has so much energy that I wonder if he isn’t being injected intravenously with Red Bull or some form of energy potions.  He has worked hard on his game and spent lots of time talking to media and couldn’t be more gracious with the fans.  Spieth is a bit upset that many are comparing him with Tiger, maybe it’s because Tiger really never interacted with anyone.  As I wrote in my preview, if he is scared or worried it’s not showing and maybe his age is helping him not realize what is ahead of him.  As each hole goes by and if he is playing good, the thought of him winning would be a burden on some.  But Spieth can handle it in stride.  It will also be interesting to see whether playing with Dustin Johnson will effect the way he plays.  Johnson will be hitting it a long way and Spieth could be 30, 40, and 50 yards back. Wonder if that will have an impact in the way Spieth plays.  I am still very bullish on him and think he will contend.

Dustin Johnson – He is a very lay back person, I believe him when he says that the heartbreak of Chambers Bay is behind him.  Have to wonder if it will be hard for him playing with Jordan Spieth, if it were me just looking at Jordan will bring anyone back to Chambers Bay.  Still this is another week and Johnson has one of the biggest advantages with his length and his pairing, playing early Thursday, late Friday give him the edge over those playing late on Thursday.  Johnson will play well, no matter whom he plays with.  In talking with Butch Harmon he thinks that if Johnson plays the way he should, Johnson could run away from the field he is playing that good right now.  So we will see.

Rickie Fowler – This kid knows a lot about playing links golf.  He played well at St. Andrews in 2010 finishing T-14th, was T-2nd last year at Hoylake and won last week in the Scottish Open.  In rolling in from his victory at Gullane, he was on cloud nine but with his tee time of 2:45 he has to think that he is boxed into a corner.  He could experience not only heavy rain, but high winds which aren’t good for low scoring.  With scores low from the morning rounds, Fowler and the others playing late will be way behind and cannot think about going low, but think about finding a way to shot right around par.  I Fowler could find himself no more than five or six shots from the lead on Friday night, he will be in a good position for the weekend.

Henrik Stenson – Just like with Fowler, his 2:34 tee time will present a big challenge.  He knows how to play on links course but the psychological knowledge of many low scores in, when he will face a tough course in rain and wind.  Stenson seems to play well every time the U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA roles around, Stenson will find a way to play well this week.

Jason Day – Lots of people will be rooting for him, he is so good and as a great record in the majors.  He plays at 9:55 with Tiger and I just have to wonder if the pairing will help him?  If Tiger plays well I feel that Day will also play well, it could get both players competitive

Tiger Woods – We talk about the important moments for Tiger, back in the 2010 Masters when he played after his personal problems.  In 2013 when he came back from surgery, it was in many folks mind important.  The same with his debut at his own tournament last December, making his first start from back surgery.  Over the course of the last five years, Tiger has given us nothing but BS about doing this well, doing that well and working hard on this.  We have heard everything about him being healthy and ready to go, only to have him play worst and worst.  I can’t think of anymore excuses for Tiger, people just aren’t buying into all this changing his swing.  Let’s be real for a second or two, could Tiger’s mind that was so golf oriented be just a bit off-kiter?  You look at Tiger of ten years ago, Tiger had all the confidence in the world. Tiger never had negative thoughts, it was all about winning and finding a way to win.  I think Tiger just doesn’t have that mojo, that he has negative thoughts and just doesn’t know what to do anymore.  It’s sad to say this, but Tiger is no longer a factor in golf and it’s sad to see if struggle.  But back to my point, Tiger is playing well and he plays a course that is one of his favorites, if Woods struggles this week I wouldn’t be surprise to see him fade away.  Sad but a fact of life.

Summing it up – Time to go watch the Champions Challenge in which past British Open champions will play four holes (1, 2 17 & 18).  Arnold is playing and it’s great to watch the past hero’s of golf in a fun match.  It’s a bit like the Wednesday Par 3 at the Masters and something to be treasured.  Before we go, I don’t see much difference than the picks I did on Monday, it’s going to be another great week of golf.

—————————————————————————–

5:30 am Thursday Morning

Lot’s of folks wrote me wondering if I was wrong on my weather forecast and I pretty much stand by what I wrote yesterday afternoon.

Here is a hour by hour report on Dundee on Uk.Weather.com, Dundee is about 20 miles up the road from St. Andrews.

According to that report it’s going to be ok until about noon when the wind will start blowing.  Between 2 pm and 8 pm the wind will be about 16 mph.  Rain does move in about 8 tonight and grow heavy at midnight.  Now just like I said in my report yesterday the weather will be terrible on Friday morning with close to 100% chance of rain and winds of 14, 15 mph.  The rain will stop at noon on Friday and winds will grow worst, up to 20 mph on Friday afternoon, so those playing early/late will have to deal with winds on Friday, not Thursday.  Still those with times early on Thursday will have the luck of the draw advantage.

Some have asked if I play any of the games, I play DraftKings and my six are like this;  One thing you will notice, all of my picks are teeing up early Thursday, late Friday:

Jordan Spieth – ($12,000) You got to like the kid and think he will be a factor over the weekend.  With heavy winds putting is going to be all important.

Tiger Woods – ($8,600) I never listened to Brandle Chamble and his words of wisdom on Tiger, I think that Woods has had a terrible season but things could turn around for him.  St. Andrews is his favorite course and he is playing early Thursday, late Friday.  Think his experience will help in bad conditions, but lord I remember he shot 82 in windy conditions at Muirfield in 2002.

Brandt Snedeker – ($8,300) He is playing well and done well in the British Open

David Howell – ($6,400) Has won at St. Andrews, the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links and had several top finishes.  Also playing very well this year including T-10th last week.  One negative he missed the cut at the Irish Open in windy, terrible conditions.

Charl Schwartzel – ($7,900) Another veteran of the Alfred Dunhill Links, doesn’t have the same record as Howell but been consistent. Only missed four cuts this year I am not looking for him to win or even finish in the top-ten, but to make the cut and give me a solid top-25 finish.

Eddie Pepperell – (6,800) Could be my best pick just because he has played a lot of links golf and was T-2nd at the Irish Open in May and T-4th last week in the Scottish Open.  Major championships always have that surprise person, last month at the U.S. Open it was Brendan Grace, this week it could be Pepperell.  Oh, I also considered Grace but at $8,100 he was too much compared to Howell at $6,400 and Pepperell at $6,800.

One other person I considered at the last minute was Victor Dubuisson.  I was tipped by Jeremy Chapman who is one the best tipster in England and works for the Racing Post.  We had dinner and he told me about Dubuisson, who shot an opening round 62 at St. Andrews in the 2012 Dunhill Links.  His price of $7,500 is a bit high even with a T-10th last week at the Scottish Open.  But what made me not take him, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and Irish Open.

So there you have another update.  Enjoy the week of Golf.

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Comments

  1. Great info regarding the weather and tee times. That’s the kind of inside stuff I’m looking for – without having to actually research it myself. Thanks!

  2. I would be more concerned with the Friday afternoon tee with gusts of 40-45 mph. Oosthuizen won last time here by having the benefit of the best tee time.

  3. I am hearing the opposite tee times will have the advantage becuase of the weather. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will have the better conditions because of the 40mph gusts expected Friday afternoon. Sal, can you confirm the weather forecast for us since you are over there? Has the forecast changed since you wrote this post?

  4. Geoff H says:

    I am hearing opposite weather patterns as well…

  5. Guys, have done an update and I stand with the weather forecast, which is always changing. Of course the forecast is for Dundee which is 20 miles up the road and not on the North Sea, but the wind is coming out of the west so that effects everyone, including Dundee. If the wind was off the sea I would possibly be more careful in the forecast.
    No matter what Friday is terrible for all, it’s just that those playing this morning (Thur) will have calm, dry conditions.

  6. Geoff H says:

    I take it back… Looks like Sal is the only one who got it right. Thanks again for all the info and enjoy!

  7. I didn’t get all of it right, gosh how embarrassing was Tiger’s round. Also embarrassing for me to tell you folks that he could be ready to go.

    Sorry to say Tiger screwed up my DraftKings picks, was rolling along until he played. Oh well.
    Won’t get me to talk about Tiger for a while.

    Just wonder what he is going to do, guess the PGA is the only event he will be eligible for, amazing how far he has fallen.

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